Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lesbian in Maryland denied communion at her mother's funeral service


There was a flap over the way a woman was treated at her mother’s funeral at a Catholic church (St. John Neumann Catholic Church) in Gaithersburg, MD. The woman, Barbara Johnson, was denied communion by Rev. Marvin Garizino, after he found out she was a lesbian. “I cannot give you communion because you were with a woman, and that is a sin.” 

The archdiocese of Washington apologized to the woman and says it treat this as a “personnel issue”.
It strikes me that the teachings of the Church would mean that a woman is in sin if she will not give herself to a man or take a vow of poverty.  

I looked through some more literature for rationalization of this sort of thinking, and the first thing that popped up was a paper (Andrew J. Sodegren) that doesn’t deny immutability (in fact, it welcomes the notion that immutability of many situations is a necessary part of creation) but goes back to “original sin” to justify all individual hardships and challenges, link here. In Vatican thinking there seems to be a notion that everyone must accept the sacrifices that come from the hand that he or she is dealt,, so as to show that he or she “needs God”.   (I didn't see the Santorum-like argument about society's "future" here that I would have expected.) One could make more of the argument that one needs a social context and identification for one’s life, because at the individual granular level, life is “unfair”.   

The WJLA news story is here

My own mother died in December 2010, and in my protestant practice there was no communion at the memorial service.  There were testimonials and music.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

DC LGBT film group holds Oscar party ("The Artist" wins Best Picture)

I did attend One-in-Ten's (and Reel Affirmation's) Oscar's Party at the L2 Lounge in Georgetown, Washington DC, tonight, near the Key Bridge, closer to the Rosslyn Metro in Arlington than to Foggy Bottom at GWU.

If  "you" haven't heard, "The Artist" won Best Picture (LA Times has a typical story here.)  Personally, I wonder if that wonderful scene where Uggie (the pooch) finds a policeman and brings him back to the fire won the prize for the film. Uggie needs a feline companion.

The party was fairly quiet, but fun.  There were plenty of hors d'oeuvres, although one of them leaked on my sweater!  Comcast Xfinity had some connectivity problems in the early evening.

Two "models" or "actors" were painted gold as Oscar statues, with shaved bodies and skin that looked chafed when viewed close up.  One of them said that the latex paint just washes off with water afterward.  I said, I would never allow that to be done to my body (especially when younger), and he asked "Why not?"  What if I had been an actor?  Look at what John Travolta did for "Staying Alive" or Robin Williams did for "Mrs. Doubtfire".  I guess you have to go to Tribunals first. (Actually, a character does that in Oliver Stone's "JFK", the character David Ferrie, played by Joe Pesci).


I got someone to take my picture holding a small toy Oscar, because I plan to make my "Do Ask Do Tell" film (with a layer, sci-fi format) and win Best Picture.

A photographer was there from The Washington Blade.  (I didn't see Metro Weekly).  There was an amorous male couple on the other side of the room in the lounge that attracted the photographer's attention (and mine, but no pictures).  You don't always need a dance floor!



Friday, February 24, 2012

Gingrich says its OK if the people of a state vote for gay marriage; Santorum talks about "dilution of marriage"


The Washington Times has reprinted an AP story by Brian Bakst, “Gingrich: Washington same-sex law the right way”, link here.  Gingrinch says he would accept what a legislature decides if the voters at least have a chance at referendum, even if he would personally vote no.  Gingrich thinks this should be left to states (but DOMA really did that).

But Santorum claims that there should be a federal definition of marriage for all purposes.  (Does this mean he opposes civil unions?  It sounds like it, if he opposes Lawrence v. Texas.)  He says that allowing gay relationships legal recognition dilutes the “meaning” of marriage to the point that many people will either not form marriages in the first place, or be able to keep the ones they have.  (That would be like Sami’s blaming Will for her infidelity on “Days of our Lives”.)  I could put this in very crude terms (use imagination).  This sounds something like this: “I will enter into and keep a relationship that involves giving something up of myself if I know that everyone else will or has to, or will not be allowed to compete with me without doing so.”    It also sounds like “If I make the sacrifices to raise a family, my kids have to make the same sacrifices to carry the “lineage” of my marital relationship forward into eternity.”  (Until the Sun, or Melancholia, swallows up the Earth.)  Yet, in older tribal societies, or in societies that feel threatened as to survival, such arguments carry weight. 

Santorum's language on the collective nature of marriage sounds like the concept of "trademark dilution".  

The link is here

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Federal judge in California holds DOMA unconstitutional


The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed by President Clinton, has been declared unconstitutional by a district court judge (Jeffrey White), in Golinski vs. US Office of Personnel Management, with the Lambda Legal copy of the opinion (expandable PDF) here.

You can save the PDF on your own computer by the icon at the bottom.

Golinski, an employee of the Ninth Circuit, had attempted to enroll her partner into the federal health plan.

The ruling was made under the Equal Protection Clause if the Fifth Amendment, along with rational basis analysis (p. 43 of the PDF). 

Wikipedia summarizes the provisions of DOMA near the beginning of its entry here. The main provisions had been to except from usual “full faith and credit” analysis any state gay marriage law, and to deny same-sex marriage at a federal level (for federal benefits or federal employees), as a “federal definition of marriage”.  The law appears to allow or encourage states to do as they please within their own borders.  There are some who wanted to do this at a constitutional level, since a statute could not legally define concept like this definitively.  An attempt amend the US constitution this way failed in 2004.

The original govtrack issue from 1995 is here

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Challenges to Outliers, Part III: Sometimes one needs to learn jealousy


I just want to pick up on a couple of points from yesterday’s discussion.

It seems very striking to me that from the 1970s all the way to the beginning of the Clinton years, I accepted my “double life” as normal and I actually had gotten used to a “separate but equal” paradigm. I was not experiencing discrimination in my own work environment since I was in a technical area, and I often found that I had more disposable income than contemporaries with families.  Yes, I had noticed that I paid school taxes on my condo (in Texas, they were broken out that way so you saw it) for “people with kids”, but it seemed fair enough:  everybody benefits from education (and one day, school systems would employ me).  “Having a family” was by and large seen as a “private choice”.  I had escaped all the jealousies and messy entanglements (like worrying about the quality of “marriage” in an existential way) of the straight world.

I was even a bit hawkish in my own attitudes about foreign policy.  I remember an Adventuring camping trip in late 1990 when some of us talked about the coming war against Saddam Hussein. No one thought then of the irony about the “ban”.  In fact, on an earlier weekend trip we had an active duty Army member, stationed at Walter Reed, with us, and no one thought about it.

My perception of this started to change in 1992 as “gays in the military” surfaced as not only a credible but possibly a real wedge issue.  I had heard of Keith Meinhold’s ABC appearance, and in the early fall (of 1992) I had read Joe Steffan’s riveting book “Honor Bound” about his expulsion from the Naval Academy just before graduation near the top of his class.  Then, of course, the issue “erupted” as President Clinton took office in early 1993.  I thought that the debate over “barracks privacy”, as Nunn and Moskos put it, had corresponded to my own dorm and roommate problems at William and Mary more than three decades before.  That seemed ironic.  But it was also ironic that at the time, this seemed to be about “privacy” in an opposing sense.  Having served in the Army without incident even though others suspected I was gay (from 1968-1970), I knew that normally career military people had “private lives” at home when not deployed; and at the time, it seemed that the key issue was leaving people alone when off base and on their own. Even Barney Frank had said that (even though that later was like “stabbing us in the back”).  If everyone could lead his own life as I did, that, in my perception at the time, amounted to a kind of “virtual equality”.

The critical issue, in my view, was that if someone like me could be barred from military service because of “private choices” (otherwise harmless), then I could be driven into second class status in other ways because I could not share the risks and burdens of others if called upon to do so.  I came into this issue from the experience of dealing with the draft and student deferments in the 1960s.  I thought the same sorts of arguments could come back in other areas where shared community service is involved, such as firefighters (even volunteers).  In fact, this issue had been raised in fire departments back in the 1970s as opposition to employment discrimination ordinances.  I also thought about the HIV issues., which had “calmed down” politically to a remarkable degree by 1993 (compared to how they had been perceived in, say, 1986).  But if giving blood could be seen as a community responsibility, again MSM could be perceived as second-class in that way. (I was once approached rudely about a workplace blood drive by someone without proper sensitivity on the issue.)

The marriage issue did not attract “existential notice” at that time either. At the time of the huge March on Washington in 1993, it was little mentioned, even though military ban was widely discussed.  By 1995, the situations in Hawaii and then Vermont were attracting attention, and in 1996 President Clinton lamely signed DOMA.  I thought at the time it was a rather trivial matter; if anything, it could be read as indirectly telling the states, “go ahead and experiment with civil unions and domestic partnership benefits; it just won’t impact federal law or be binding on other states.”  I was more interested in the fact that in 1995, Clinton had finally signed an order protecting gays in security clearance investigations (how that would work in the military was murky, given DADT).

There was still, in the 1990s, a social attitude that “renaissance men” (and women) didn’t have to depend on others for support, and therefore marriage didn’t matter much.  A Clark Kent look-a-like on the disco floor hardly needed “marriage”.   Call it a twist on Ayn Rand’s hyper-individualism.  Or maybe call it a return of the “Golden Calf”.

As long as the economy boomed (which it did in the late 1990s, thanks to the growth of the Internet abd because of Republicrat Clinton’s fiscal controls and budget surpluses), this sort of attitude was likely to persist.  But slowly the Internet was challenging the “double life” paradigm, making a “don’t ask don’t tell” attitude less tenable.  That would really become apparent by 2005 or so with social media. But more important, harder times came back, with 9/11, and then various policies of the Bush administration, and most of all with another economic crash.  People needed to learn the lessons of interdependence again.
By 2004, with the Massachusetts decision, gay marriage—and not just civil unions – was making surprising progress.  What had once seemed like a harmless tautology  -- “marriage is a social unit created by one man and one woman” – now was taking on existential significance.  Because of  (post 9/11) more attention in the media to people in need, the notion that children and other dependents of gay couples suffered discrimination had real meaning, as did the idea that anyone could suddenly become dependent on others.

What gave me a case of “twisted pictures” was my own experience with eldercare, the parameters of which were not exactly on my terms.  Along with this, I was getting bizarre calls from employers wanting me to hucksterize for them, as well as finding kids in classrooms (when I substitute taught) expected me to play “father” when I had no experience with marriage and fatherhood and had always found competing for it to be frankly humiliating.  Everyone can be called upon to be responsible for others, so one doesn’t want to do this on other people’s terms, or wind up mainly subsidizing other people’s “pleasures”.

What strikes me, in the culture wars, more than anything else, is that people (according to conservative thought) generally are pressured to bond with and care about people in their own “neighborhoods” (including families) regardless of their choices.  Forming a marriage (even same-sex) to last a lifetime, as partners age and experience various difficulties that reduce the obvious chemistry of “turn-on”, and keeping that marital or lifelong partnership bond, depends on a belief that others “visible in the neighborhood” are going to do the same (and may be practically compelled to do the same).   Some people do feel that their marital experience, of a lifetime, is diluted if others get some of the same benefits without the same levels of commitment and “qualification”. Therefore, they may have less incentive to form and keep it.  This observation may help explain Vatican moral philosophies that “sex is for married people” (to quote “Seventh Heaven”) and Roman Catholic claims that non-procreative sex (homosexual or with contraception) reduces the incentive of couples to form and keep marital commitments.  So in marriage areas, our concept of “personal responsibility” can be severely tested by the ways it actually works in a social system.

I look at this from some distance, almost like an alien anthropologist, who never “joined the system” until coerced to do so (at least partially).  The coercion certainly taught me a lesson.  It’s curious that this would come my way. I’ve never experienced the jealousies of characters in soap operas.  And I’ve never thought I could ever be in a position to expect someone to be “faithful” to me.  What an irony.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Challenges to those who are different, Part II; "Outlierage": When does sexual orientation "really matter" to people, and why?


In the past twenty years or so, a significant minority of the LGBT community, including myself, have embraced libertarianism as the best political philosophy, as exemplified by Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL), which was quite visible in the 1990s.

In general, I still like the idea that the best government is the one that does the least, at least in terms of setting preferences, making regulations, and trying to play Robin Hood.   One hopes that with little regulation, market forces will encourage everyone to “do the right thing” with respect to diversity and discrimination.

At the same time, I know that there are many issues that societies and communities must face “together” and that some issues work in a non-linear way with respect to individual choices.   

So, for example, when the GOP today makes the “libertarian” claim that employers should be free to follow their own religious conscience in setting personnel and health coverage policy for their own employees and when these same candidates say (with some credibility) that most mainstream employers can’t afford to discriminate (with churches the main exception), we still have to wonder, why do people believe that they need to regulate the sex and personal lives of others?

One strategy of the “liberal Left” on LGBT issues has been to aggregate people by sexual orientation (or “preferences”) into classes, and invoke the idea of immutability to then demand “equality” based on consideration as membership in a “suspect class” of people.  This may sometimes work politically, but it is intellectually and morally unsatisfying and suggests that, left to themselves as individuals, people may not have all the “fundamental rights” that they need or want.  (My father had once noted that I was so preoccupied with “rights”.)

I think an important question is to ask, why have, historically, many people held homosexuals – those who have private homosexual behaviors or appear to have an interest in having them – in contempt.  While on the surface, many of the reasons sound “obvious” (starting with religion), if you ask an individual person about his harboring of these attitudes, he or she will probably have trouble explaining them in an acceptable manner. Even if he resorts to "You chose this" (denying immutability or the "who you are" argument), he won't be able to explain why it's "his business". 

I can apply the same question to myself, my own life history.  Why have I indeed sometimes met severe rebuke, with harmful consequences, from some parties because of my admitting sexual orientation, even (when a college freshman) as “latent”? 

It’s important to put the “Equality” debate, as HRC pushes it, into a certain perspective.

On a certain level, it’s appropriate. Yes, children or dependents on a couple should not face disadvantage because of the social approval of their parents.  Partners should always have visitation rights, and so forth.

With gays in the military (the “equality” debate will apply to military spouses) the underlying concept, as I saw it, was that gays needed to be able to serve with a limited openness appropriate for a very sensitive environment.  That, for the outer society, meant “equality”, because everyone (in a post-conscription society) was still at least capable of serving when needed.

But the “equality” debate said something else to me, personally.  It goes like this: if I did not succeed in having a relationship with a female where I performed sexually to a level normally expected, my rights and interests could sometimes be sacrificed to meet the needs of those who did. 

I might well go for decades and lead my own life in a way of my choosing. But I was vulnerable.  My own history is that I had serious problems from the objections of others early (in my teen and college years), and again during my eldercare experience.  This went much deeper into my life than the “equality” debate, as usually phrased, can convey.  So, why did others behave this way?

It is true that people have often grown up in a localized familial or quasi “tribal” environment, where they perceive that their own well-being, or even survival, is tied to that of their families, regardless of their own choices.  They are expected to “be there” for the families that their parents have set up for them and step in, as for siblings, when necessary.  They are expected to “love people as people” within the family unit, and respect some different levels of  personal ability within the family. Going outside the family, in terms of giving attention to people, provided a much more mixed situation morally speaking.  Parents have both a right and responsibility to socialize their children into generalized family responsibility as trumping over other personal choices, at least sometimes. Parents, for example, expect adult children to be able to step in to help siblings' children after family tragedies; this is not a matter of simple choice and consequentialism; it's a matter of a whole family's future. 

So people come to learn that having and raising children and continuing their families is an important obligation (formerly, an economic necessity in a farm economy), more or less synonymous with the idea that sexuality belongs within marriage, that “sex is for married people only”.  But if that is so, then their own choices actually mean a bit less, and many men will come to expect the right to a double standard, and some sex “on the side” as a naturally occurring entitlement.

Men, especially, come to understand that they will have to share their entire sexual lives with one partner for life, and maintain an interest in “actively” doing so. (I could put it in much more blunt terms.) They will have to provide for others.  They will have to become fungible and give themselves up for their kids or sometimes for other people’s kids.  This becomes difficult to take unless one believes everyone else is going to have to do the same thing.

At William and Mary, in the Fall of 1961, my roommate acted as if he feared that continuing to room or be around someone “not interested in girls” could make him impotent.  He actually put his fears in very graphic terms one night.  I was astonished at what he said; it sounded self-deprecating.  I was the non-human, extraterrestrial, all powerful alien to be feared, watching over others and deciding who was fit to reproduce, since I would not do so myself.  In a way, I felt strangely flattered.  I could not understand then that others could view me as another potential Hitler, as shocking as that sounds now.  Another important observation, in retrospect, is that the College knew that I was an only child. For me to announce “latent homosexuality” to a Dean, even in a clandestine private meeting, was to pronounce a death sentence for my parent’s lineage, for the possibility that their own marital relationship could have meaning forever.  I might have owned the power to destroy their marriage (which is an odd notion of responsibility for something I cannot engage in yet).  That did not happen, and my parents came around and funded my education at GWU after all, maybe sensing the injustice.
  
At the same time, when I was forced to leave WM in late November 1961, the college, my parents, and everyone else, played the psychiatry and “mental illness” card.  (Wasn’t denial of the reproductive instinct a kind of illness, destructive to family if not self?  That’s the kind of thinking that actually permeates Uganda today.)  In fact, I have since learned since that in fall 1962 there was another case at WM, with different facts, where the student was actually put in the “infirmary” for a while and allowed to return to school, as if the school thought it was covering its behind by listening to the “illness” model.

I would spend my six months as an “inpatient” at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD) starting in the summer of 1962.  The therapists were very concerned about my “fantasies” and what part-objects in my fantasies gave me pleasure.  The short of it is that they were concerned that I would never respond to women and their “needs” (to be provided for as future mothers) enough to be able to have normal sexual intercourse and have a family myself.   They were concerned about my “upward affiliation”  (the antithesis of “aesthetic realism”) and my focus on the ways people could fail or “lose it”.  They were concerned about what my thoughts and feelings -- attitudes, once they could be detected by others -- would "mean".   I could even see this in the (often handwritten) staff notes, which I obtained through FOIA in the 1990s when I was working on my first book.  (It’s ironic that socially conservative therapist Joseph Nicolosi [he promotes his “Thomas Aquinas Clinic” online, which the reader can check], in a 2002 book telling parents how to “prevent homosexuality”, writes that “masculinity is an achievement”, and it’s a double irony that I concur.)  There were other potentially “gay” or even TS patients, including females.  There was a general pattern that the people, deemed “mentally ill” and eligible for the studies, were there because they could not or would not “perform” in a manner consistent with society’s demands and expectations, often related to gender.

So, people were concerned about what turned me on, the wrong things.  And the upshot was that this was a bigger moral issue for them than the 180-degree opposite, which would be something like getting a girl pregnant.  It strikes me as ironic that I, as a gay man, was a greater threat to his own masculinity than I would have been as a direct rival for a girl friend  (in an environment where there were more men than women on campus, no longer the case).

Eventually, I would break free, and spend most of my working life in relative “privacy”, leading a rich double life, but living one of the lives on “another planet” (effectively end-rounding the speed of light barrier every day) so that “equality” didn’t really matter. An important observation, however, is the effort I had to expend just on my own “needs” to be able to get the logistics for my “space travel” set up.  Even then, my parents, even once they started to accept “reality”, feared that I would be “followed” and “blackmailed”. 

But in the early days, we did indeed have to worry about bar raids and the possibility of legal run-ins (with sodomy laws on the books), however remote. The potential legal climate became much more tense with the coming of AIDS, which inspired the right wing in Texas to propose very draconian anti-gay laws, based on a new “public health threat” from “private” gay activity (the so called “chain-letter” and “amplification” arguments).  That settled down, and today this episode (at least in Texas) is little remembered despite the legal catastrophe it could have caused.

In retrospect, the “political” recovery of the gay community in a post-epidemic environment seems remarkable. By 1993, with Clinton as president, it had become credible to debate lifting the ban on gays in the military, a process that would take until 2011 (with the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy). At first focused on Hawaii and Vermont, and then Massachusetts, and quickly other states, the debate (and constitutional battles) over gay marriage would take off in the mid 1990s, too. DOMA, while forbidding gay marriage recognition at a federal level, at least seemed to have to indirect message of telling the states, go ahead and experiment. 
  
Writers like Andrew Sullivan were finally explaining cogently anti-gay bias, such as with his New Republic piece that appeared right before the massive 1993 March on Washington.  (There would be another such event in 2000.)

Today, in a world that is post-9/11 and post 2008-Crisis, we’re at a very schizophrenic point. On the one hand, we have made historic changes in our military policy and in marriage policy in several states.  At the same time, in the Internet age, cyberbullying and in-person bullying of gays in some school districts seems out of control.  The kids and school administrators seemed to be ignorant of current events. How can this anomaly be?

My own experience comes back into focus.  What I have found is that ultimately, the debate on “equality” matters for everybody, eventually (which is mathematically different from “frequently”, or “all the time”).  It mattered for me, once family pressures came back and changes were brought to bear on me that questioned my own diffidence with other people, as I explained on my main blog today.  If I don’t have a “marital relationship” of my own, I don’t want someone to be able to force another relationship on me (whether eldercare, or some sort of role-modeling for other people’s children), whatever the level of need, particularly the shame associated with my “competitive history” of the distant past.  I don’t want to give up my own goals or life for someone else’s ends.  But if I’m not an equal in the relationships I form, I’m vulnerable to that kind of pressure.  It can prove fatal.

And, what does so much of this come down to?  For some people, the social supports for “traditional” marital sex are necessary for it to flourish within a marriage lifelong.  So, it “make sense” to support for the common good. But then, those who don’t engage in “traditional marital sex” subsidize those who do, and are sometimes vulnerable to making real sacrifices, “eventually”, with a great deal of coercion.  Libertarian values can at least eliminate the coerced “sacrifice” (although it could exist within the confines of private spaces, especially faith-based employers and services).  A quasi-libertarian position might be to recognize or provide the perks of marriage only when there are real dependents (children, elderly, or disabled adults) and maybe for only one relationship in a lifetime, maybe with a maximum age differential;  treat all other relationships as simple contracts. 

But gay marriage (and to a large extent, “gay rights”) opponents are left in a position of saying that society needs to support normal procreative way actively, sometimes in a way that can seem punitive to those who eschew it, to compensate for the tremendous cost of having a family, raising children, and to recognize the personal lifelong “sacrifice” involved in marriage which gays and determined bachelors refuse to make.  It used to be that family was its own reward.  But maybe not enough, given the anti-gay attitudes of the distant past. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Town DC packed for Mardi Gras party

Well, Town DC was pretty well packed for the Mardi Gras party.  A few people wore masks that looked like those worn by "Anonymous".  Others wore the various head-dresses.
There also some "Zardoz" faces hanging from the ceiling in the upstairs dance hall, almost looking like holograms (picture above, face in upper right).  They reminded me of the (UK-based) Sphlongetron that had played at the nearby 930 Club last May (see Drama blog, May 3, 2011).
 Town also has a "homage" to some of the extra-solar planets (potential "Earth 2's") recently discovered:
Just before the drag show ended around 12 Midnight, the performers took their final encores.  Or maybe it looks like a brown dwarf or a "hot Jupiter".

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Major gay news site discusses "private racism" in detail

A major gay news site has a long column today on “gay racism”, but mainly in the area of “private choices.”  It’s not so far from another concept we sometimes hear about, “body fascism”.

I somewhat disagree that minorities are ignored by gay publications.  For example, the Metro Weekly in the DC area has plenty of bar and party scenes containing women and non-white men, as well as plenty of ads.  And in “adult” (euphemism) magazines, there have long been “minorities”, all the way back to the 1980s.
In gay film, it’s a little different.  It does seem that LGBT film, when dealing with men, seems a bit white-centric.  Women are doing better on this – look at “Pariah”.

In the area of private choice, especially for dating and relationships, one is getting into an area that tramples on individual choice.  I personally don’t post my “preferences” on Facebook, but if I was 50 years younger than I am (68), I might feel differently.  (Actually, for younger people, such entries could drive away prospective employers anyway.)  But I suppose my tastes could be detected from undercurrent, from comments I make about the appearance of actors in movies, for example.  When I was a substitute teacher, that might have become an issue; a student might be able to infer my own “prejudices” from what I had written about media with the help of search engines.

Among men, race may have an accidental effect.  Among Caucasians, probably because of tens of thousands of years of evolving in colder climates, there is more difference in body hair between the genders, to the point that can be perceived as a more significant “secondary sexual characteristic” or, as clinical psychologists say, even “part-object”.  It can become a way to distinguish among men, which may have become important anthropologically to females in selecting mates in the past.  With upward affiliation, gay men could use it or make something of it (or its absence, either way) to assess the “value” of prospective partners.

The whole issue could fit into claims from the religious right (or especially the Vatican) that gay men, in particular, are unwilling to form (let alone keep) relationships with those who will depend on them, with “complementarity”, as necessary to sustain a civilization into the future. It politicizes what turns someone on, and "makes something out" out of thoughts and feelings that evolve in a person.

The article is here.  It’s an odd story to occur right in the middle of one of the most critical times in the gay marriage battle. 



Here is WJLA's video on the gay marriage vote in Maryland Friday night.  Demonstrations on both sides in Annapolis are reported to have been heated.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lambda Legal magazine discusses tricky issues for gay parents, and an important housing case in Hawaii; MD House OK's marriage bill, with a catch; NJ veto

Since Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is a regular recipient of a small monthly contribution from my Mother’s estate trust, I now get a subscription to their magazine, “Impact”.

The current issue (Winter, 2012) that arrived today has a detailed legal discussion (by Beth Littrell) of the problems of LGBT people in adopting children – taking responsibility for the next generation, with some irony, on p. 6. She notes that some states require that a biological parent terminate parental rights before another unmarried adult (hence, another distinction between marriage and civil union) can adopt. “This, Lambda Legal has repeatedly argued, would lead to the absurd result of denying many children of same-sex parents two legal parents”.

On p. 4 there is a short report “B&B & Bias”, about a bed and breakfast in Hawaii that refused to rent a room to two lesbians, after the owner asked and the couple told, truthfully. There has been a similar case (with a male couple) with bed and breakfast in Fairfax, VA.  

Update:

The Maryland House OK'd gay marriage Friday evening, but with a caveat that probably will require voter approval.  In New Jersey, Chris Christie vetoed a law, but it might get an override from the legislature. Baltimore Sun story is here.  New Jersey could lose out economically if the legislature doesn't overturn the governor, as gay marriage really does generate jobs in nearby New York State.

Update 2:  Feb. 24

The Maryland Senate passed the bill early Thursday evening. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

At the Fairfax, VA courthouse Valentine's Day, a same-sex marriage rally for one female couple

 Today, there was a rally for marriage equality near the Fairfax County courthouse in Fairfax VA (not technically in the county!), where Karen Rasmussen and Barb Brehm, partners for 26 years, had gone upstairs in the building to apply for a marriage license, not legal in VA because of the Marshall-Newman amendment of 2006.  The court used an “old form” and was reportedly very cordial, meeting in a conference room, but said that under Virginia law there was no way to accept the application.  Weather was cloudy and mild, around 50 degrees. 

The couple merged about 2:10 PM (after about 20 minutes in the building) for the crowd. Members of a Unitarian congregation in Fairfax were leading the gathering.  Candles had been handed out, but were not used while I was there.   Most of the crowd dispersed around 2:40 PM.

At another point, a speaker talked about “protecting the family” and added, “from what?”

Fairfax News has an account of the event here  (Below, the pooch was watching nearby birds most of the time.)

Fox News (local, Channel 5), and News Channel 8 (ABC, associated with WJLA-7) were present filming.
I have a lot of video not yet processed, but here are two of the clearer files:

Singing:
Then speaking:

The Associated Press reports on the signing of a law allowing same-sex marriage in Washington State here

Washington Station WJLA reports on the progress of same-sex marriage legislation (with a video taken in Annapolis) in Maryland, here.

Steve Kornacki has an article on NJ GOP governor  Chris Christie and his political predicament over trying to veto marriage, hoping the state senate will override it, link here (in Salon, remember, a COPA plaintiff.). 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Rolling Stone article slams Minnesota school district on gay "neutrality policy" and bullying

Today, I picked up a copy of the Feb. 16, 2012 Rolling Stone, to read (on the Metro) the article on p. 50 by Sabrina Rubin Erdeky, “School of Hate: In Michele Bachmann’s home district, evangelicals have been waging war against gay teens”, link here.

This refers to serious problems with anti-gay bullying in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, north of Minneapolis (along Highway 10), in a suburb and rural area that is working class and in much more difficult economic straits than the Twin Cities themselves are. The problem is reported to stem from an official “neutrality” policy where teachers and staff may not mention gay issues, called the “No Homo Promo Policy”. The tone and details reported in the Rolling Stone article are shocking.
 
The school district has responded, according to CBS Minnesota, in this story Feb. 6, link.

I lived in Minneapolis, downtown, from 1997-2003 and never heard of problems like this.  I don't know whether schools in Minneapolis, in Hennepin County, are included in the school district, but it sounds unbelievable that this would happen in them. The Twin Cities is very much as "blue" area.

The Rolling Stone article describes what sounds like horrific harassment and assaults that a school district normally would not tolerate under any circumstances. The “right wing”, in a curious perversion of logic, blames the victims for disclosing their lifestyle, and seems to view the behavior of attackers as “free speech”.

I was a substitute teacher in northern VA 2004-2007, and we did not have a systematic problem like this as far as I could see. A few progressive schools had GS alliances. But random incidents of verbal assaults against various groups did occur, and it was very difficult for a substitute teacher to prevent them unless and commanding authority figure. One anti-Semitic slur was passed on a hidden note (pasted on another student’s back) that I could not have seen. A few schools in less prosperous areas did have problems with gang behavior in “remedial” (below standard curriculum) or special education classes.


I can also say that I have experienced the idea that, once one is publicly visible (even through writing on the Web) or in a position of authority, one cannot really be “neutral”.  To ignore a situation or plea is to convey antagonism; others will interpret diffidence or aloofness as hostility. 


Students behave this way because they see the world in terms of “social combat”, in which the “strongest” must prevail, and the “weakest” must accept dependency on their authority. That is a real world problem that many people, especially in lower income areas, experience and perceive where criminal and civil justice in the usual sense does not work. Some Evangelicals can manipulate this social situation and morally blame “less competitive” people for their own situation and demand obedience, shame, and “repentance”. In Biblical times, tribal societies imposed these values on everyone as a group survival strategy.

It's rather amazing to see this going on "locally" in a school district when nationally, gay marriage (and gay sin the military) is accepted as a credible mainstream issue, with a prevailing view that giving someone else the same rights you have shouldn't diminish you. (Just today, Washington State acted -- more on that soon.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Visit to MCC in northern VA today; MCC internationally

I made a visit to MCC NOVA in Fairfax City, VA today.  It is in a large townhouse fairly close to the center of town, with main website here

Emma Chattin gave the sermon, "Let's Go On". 
  
I have visited the church, alone, frequently a few years ago, while my mother was alive and then more independent.

When I look at MCC Fellowship’s list of churches (link), I notice that there are churches in troubled countries, including Kenya, Zimbabwe, and particularly Nigeria, where a recent Newsweek story discussed the persecution of Christianity in general in that country.

Uganda is not included.

In Central America, I see Nicaragua and El Salvador.

I do not see anything in China.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Roland Martin's tweet leads to discussions of "masculinity" in our culture

The New York Times Saturday has an op-ed on p. 21, “Real Men and Pink Suits”, about the (CNN) Roland Martin (Super Bowl) Twitter controversy, link here

He discusses society’s notion of the requirements for manhood. He uses some ironic, unaffordable metaphors. “We have shaved the idea of manhood down to an unrealistic definition that few can fit it in with the whole of whom they are”, and later, quoting a 2001 piece already cited by GLAAD, “a boy who does not measure up to dominant prescriptions of masculinity is ‘likely to be punished by his peers in ways that seek to strip him of his mantle of masculinity.’”  Remember how Joseph Nicolosi wrote "Masculinity is an achievement" in his 2002 anti-gay book whose title need not be repeated here. 

I have the impression that many men find “meaning” in the rules that tribal societies develop so that they can survive in a hostile world. (The whole world of the Exodus and the return to the homelands comes to mind.)  It isn’t just that one makes a choice and takes responsibility for the results of choices (like babies).  One owes others allegiances anyway, that certainly are inherently unequal, not even always complementary, and certainly invite upward affiliation.  No wonder many men feel they are “entitled” to sex without consequences;  whatever others make them do, they will have to deal with anyway.

I think that professional sports gives us a useful paradigm for thinking about diversity. Compare professional football (NFL) to Major League Baseball and baseball in general.  In baseball, the home team has a lot of leeway in setting up the outfield fences to the abilities of its players. (The Washington Nationals have "pitcher's park", with fences more distant than usual.)   Not so in football (or soccer, so much the rage in Europe and South America).  There is a basic set of “rules” for everybody (which instant replay has turned to precision, as in the last Super Bowl with a particularly critical sideline pass catch by one of the Giants), but in baseball there is also a zone where individual competitors can create their own sub-universes and invite others to compete in it.  I remember this as a boy (in the late 1950s) when we played “back yard baseball” (softball or whiffleball); the host got to make a lot of the rules.  Sometimes the host could shine in his own world.  I took advantage of this, and sometimes other boys whined when they “lost” in my back yard.

A similar idea exists in chess, despite the rigidity and determinism of the game.  In practice, the player with the Black pieces (who moves second) has a lot more say over the character of the game than White.  This matters in practical tournament play.

The irony of the last name of the New York Times op-ed piece is itself an accidental irony. The author is Charles M. Blow.

 Picture (first): a model toy stadium, 1956.  We actually had a board game played with aluminum foil wads. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Is gay content online more susceptible to censorship?


Are gays more susceptible to censorship?  A story on “gay.net” reports some problems with YouTube and Facebook takedowns of “inappropriate” material that would not have generated complaints in the heterosexual world. The link is here.

On the other hand, some religious conservatives will complain that they are accused of “hate speech” by the same sites.

The problem could become more serious as government, one way or another, tries to expand its takedown powers (despite the delay on SOPA and PIPA) to stop piracy and various kinds of trafficking.
Another problem concerns insurance.  Liability insurance for bloggers has been proposed and developed, with uneven results (as discussed on my main blog).  Back in 2001, the National Writers Union tried to offer an insurance product (about $300 premium for six months), and writers with LGBT content were consistently turned down, and were even told blatantly by the underwriter (in emails) that materials of “controversial nature” couldn’t be covered.  I remember that email and was astonished at its brazenness.


Picture: At Fort Eustis, VA, back in 1969, the guys would mimic "tiptoe through the tulips" and invoke the "gesture", "O go way butterfly".  We called it OGAB.  And this was around the time that Stonewall hit the newspapers.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Washington Post points out "poison pill" in Ninth Circuit's ruling on Proposition 8

The Washington Post has an important editorial on p A16 Feb. 9, “Wobbly Justice: An appeal’s court’s decision on Proposition 8 may actually end up hindering gay rights”.  Online the title is “Proposition 8 ruling was just but wobbly”, link here. The story title reminds me of a ski lodge in Vermont, “The Wobbly Barn”, that I visited right after I “came out” in 1973.

The problem, as hinted Tuesday, is that the Court, in attempting to be narrow, said that the Proposition advanced no hypothetical state interest.  In writing its Opinion, the Court, with a sloppy subjunctive (it would be clearer in French than in English because of the endings) speculated that a referendum could actually try to advance marital procreation.  That’s rather disturbing (and it “opens the door” and gives hints), because it ratifies the idea that you may (constitutionally, through the political process) advance meeting the needs of some people (married people having children) by placing a contingent threat on others to be forced to sacrifice (to help support the sexual intercourse of others sometimes at expense to themselves).  

The ruling also begs a line of reasoning in some previous Supreme Court holdings, where a purported "fundamental right" needs to have a social purpose (like procreation or family) before it becomes "fundamental".  That sort of thinking had infiltrated the majority in "Bowers v. Hardwick" in 1986 but went away in "Lawrence v. Texas" (2003) except for dissent.  

Yesterday, on my books blog, I reviewed "The Darwin Economy", and author Robert Frank did talk about "common good", but in the context of optimizing freedom for everyone, not in forcing subsidies and sacrifice. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

New documentary "Legalize Gay" announced by Campus Pride, available in Spring 2012

Campus Pride is announcing the release of a film by Christopher Hines, "Legalize Gay: The Civil Rights Movement of a Generation", directed by Christopher Hines, to be distributed in part by the Logo Network, announcement link here.  I am not sure of whether it will be available mainly on cable or in platformed theatrical releases in theaters specializing in independent film (such as Landmark and AMC Independent). Some cities should have it by May, and one city that may see it sooner is Charlotte, NC.

I will provide a review when I am able to view it.



The trailer opens with "Rogue Culture" presents.  I don't know if this company is related to "Rogue" pictures (that is, "I am Rogue", link) a well known Hollywood distributor that specializes in B-movies and in some independent "art" film (which included "Catfish").  Rogue has sponsored at least one filmmaker's contest that was advertised in AMC Theaters.  I don't know if it is related to this production.  Rogue the distributor is associated with NBC Universal-Focus, Relativity Media, and possibly Wolfe (which does distribute LGBT film).

CA: Proposition 8 ruled unconstitutional by Ninth Circuit, 2-1

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled Proposition 8, the California State Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage, unconstitutional, by a 2-1 vote, affirming a lower court ruling. The MSNBC link is here.

Perez Hilton has a fancy site (overly so) with a brief story here

The Los Angeles Times has posted a PDF of the opinion here.

“Proposition served no purpose, and had no effect, other than to lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians in California,” the court write. 

Later comments say that the Ninth Circuit pointed out that California law gives same-sex couples all benefits "manually", so denial use of the legal term "marriage" seems intended to offend or injure. This argument would not mean that other states could not outlaw same-sex marriage if they also outlawed civil unions (like Virginia Marshall-Newman) so there is a poison pill in the opinion.

Same sex marriages, at such, will not start until the appeal before the Supreme Court is carried out. (I suppos there could be an en banc appeal first.)

Wikipedia attribution link for 9th Circuit building. 

Monday, February 06, 2012

Ex-gay group slips flier into student take-home materials at a MD high school

Local Washington DC television stations have an upsetting story this evening about a disturbing flier sent home to students from a Kensington, MD high school from what appears to be an “ex-gay” group, PFOX.  The flier, among other things, denounces the "immutability argument".  WJLA has this video of the account, and some will find it disturbing. 

 

The school district says that “non profit” groups are allowed to place fliers four times a year, and they do not edit the content.  The material was sent home with student report cards, which seems a bit heavy handed.  Many parents and students a like were upset by the unsolicited enclosure. 

PFOX does appear on Blogger (here).

Metro Weekly has a story on the incident by John Riley, here.  Metro called it sarcastically "student outreach". 

I always want to ask people who circulate this, what’s your motive?  Why do “you” want to control other people’s lives?   It seems as though some people want to make sure everyone either accepts the risk and responsibility for procreation or takes a vow of poverty (because they had to).  If you think about what this implies, it would suggest no one has a right to say “no” forever.  Think of what that would imply for the rights of women.  It starts to sound like the Taliban.

Stay tuned for a ruling on Proposition 8 Tuesday.  

"Do Ask Do Tell Dance Party" will occur at Telluride Gay Ski Week in CO

I got an email from the Press Room for “StraighOut Media & Marketing”, which produces Telluride Gay Ski Week, about a “free VIP party” for active service members called the “Do Ask Do Tell Dance Party”, apparently during the event (Feb. 25-March 3) at Telluride, CO. 

The Press Announcement is here.

Telluride Gay Ski Week has a website here.

The Dance Party will have a photography campaign sponsored by the Open Artists Movement (link). 

It is noteworthy that Reichen Lehmkuhl will serve as celebrity host.  Lehmkuhl is the celebrity host of the book “Here’s What We’ll Say: Growing Up, Coming Out, and the U.S. Air Force”,  Carroll & Graf, 2006.  The author had spoken at the HRC Anniversary Dinner in Washington in 2006. Lehmkuhl actually survived the ban, working with a secret society in “The Tunnels”.  At one point he makes this interesting comment (p. 334) about the now repealed law:

“The policy says not to ask a military member if he or she is gay and tells individual military members not to say they are gay, but it does not cover when someone else reports you as being gay.”

 Remember, Colorado was the site of the Amendment 2 fight (Romer v. Evans) in the 1990s.

I don't know if is very practical for me to make this event. I'm not a skiier, and it's short notice.  And the SLDN Annual Dinner in Washington DC takes place March 3.  

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Telluride downtown.  I may have been there in 1973, and again in 1994.  

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Do "gay parents" pose the biggest social conundrum? GOP in VA thinks so.

The GOP in the Virginia legislature is thrashing around and making itself seen on the social issues, including drafting a bill that faith-based agencies can turn away gays trying to adopt (or give foster care to) children. (Presumably these agencies still get state or federal funds.)  The GOP also wants women to have an ultrasound before abortion. The Dems came back on that one and proposed (without success) that men have heart stress tests and digital exams  (both perceived as invasive and maybe humiliating) before getting prescriptions for medications to handle erectile dysfunction.  Here’s the link from the Washington Post Feb. 5 by Laura Vozzella and Anita Kumar. 

There’s a bit of a logical tangle here.  My experience has been that I have, as a gay male, been viewed as “cheating the system” by not taking on having a family and having more discretionary income and being able to lowball the system.   As an only child, I did not pick up as much as others did in the 1950s that parents expect their kids not only to continue the family (the vicarious immortality implicit in procreation), but also to be prepared to step in and help raise other people’s children (such as siblings’, after family tragedies – the subject of several movies like “Raising Helen”), and to grow up as social beings.  Parents believed that they had both the power and responsibility to impart this to their kids.  That sort of thing is coming back, after a couple decades of more hyperindividualism, because of “demographic winter” – people living longer with fewer kids – and I got a dose of this with my recent experience in eldercare.  In part, I felt very much like a second-class citizen. 

There are a couple of solutions, and they invoke some logical contradictions.  One is to embrace – and expect – not only gay marriage but for gays to step in and become involved as parents of the many “Wednesday’s children”.   And then the Right comes back, on the “sanctity of marriage” thing (“a man and a woman” and the “birthright of a child to two married parents of opposite gender”, even on “what was meant to be” by Nature, or God, etc.).  If seems as if same-sex couples are in the game as 100% equals, then the whole institutionalized setting for heterosexual marriage is lessened – the whole courtship game and male double standard – to the point that heterosexual couples – at least those less “fortunate” (or more financially capable) no longer believe that they can stay interested for lifetime in their own relationships without the external props.  Doesn’t the idea of a pre-nup undermine the idea of “till death do us part” and “in sickness and in health” (and “for richer or poorer”)?  So, by logical exclusion, we’re left with the idea of gays as second-class citizens by definition.

Yet, for about three decades of my own adult life, “second class status” meant very little in practice.  I was the one with the disposable income, often consorting with Log Cabin Republicans, then with libertarianism.  I rather liked Ron Paul’s comment that marriage is just a private contract (the “license expired” thing).  If heterosexual couples fall apart with age due to lack of pampers, so be it.

It was only when coercion was applied, both in the eldercare area and, oddly, with phone calls for “social jobs” that I didn’t want – attracted by people who wanted to conscript me away from “freedom” and “self-expression” – that the equality thing hit home.  (Partisan hucksterism supports real “families” and “takes care” of people, after all.)  Of course, the “don’t ask don’t tell” debacle had highlighted the problem since Bill Clinton’s days – if gays aren’t “morally suitable” to share in the sacrifices it takes to defend freedom, they were free pickings later on.  It’s interesting how DADT really wasn’t about “privacy” in the end, and how “unit cohesion” as a concept could apply to the society at large.

It's true, you can construct the "social contract" around the "common good" notion that everyone has intergenerational reponsibility at a personal level, but then the tie between sexual intercourse and responsibility for the children that come from that act is weakened, and men may feel entitled, if they're going to be held responsible (for the choices that others make) anyway.  It goes back to the kind of thinking (and double standards) the days we had a male-only military draft. 

“Complementarity” and “equality” are “complementary” but not “equivalent” concepts.  (And it’s “e”, not “i”, in that word.)
  


Friday, February 03, 2012

Boy Scouts leader recommends signing on to "no bullying"

A writer for Scouting magazine (with the Boy Scouts of America) has submitted for publication a blog entry supporting the GLSEN’s anti-bullying effort: specifically, “No Name-Calling Week”: “no sticks, no stones, no dissing”. This appears on “Bryan on Scouting, a Blog for BSA Adult Leaders”, here

Bryan writes that “to disagree is not to disrespect”.  Some of the comments see this as a canard and claim that exclusion is the real problem, driven by hidden ties to the Vatican and maybe the Mormon Church, both.  Scouting apparently still has its congressional approbation.

In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that BSA could maintain its exclusionary policies because it was a private organization, in response to the lawsuit from James Dale.  Libertarians supported the BSA in the position but maintained it should never use public funds or resources. 

The Huffington Post has a lead story here on the development. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Occupy movement in NYC has LGBT group very critical of HRC


There is a branch of the Occupy movement called “Queering OWS”, link here  offering a “Occupy Guerilla Potluck for Full Equality”, link, and advice to “bring flashlights”.
It has a website “Act on Principles; Turning Principles into Equality; The Pledge for Full LGBT Equality”, link here.
Their email to me early February 1, 2012 from Todd Fernandez, (no url given for the content) said the following:

"New York, NY, February 1, 2012  - Queer/LGBTIQA2Z Occupy Wall Street, a caucus of the NYC based Occupy Wall Street movement, announced today that it will protest a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Gala honoring Goldman Sachs on Saturday February 4, 2012 at the Waldorf Astoria.

"In contrast to the $650 a plate Gala, the Queer/LGBTIQA2Z Caucus will host a “Guerrilla Potluck” on the sidewalk outside of the prestigious hotel at 50th Street & Park Avenue from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

"The Queer Caucus:  1.  Condemns HRC for honoring Goldman Sachs, 2.  Calls upon HRC to adopt a strategy of Full Equality by 2014, and 3.  Demands that HRC create a transparent process that includes the grassroots.

"1.  The Queer Caucus condemns HRC’s decision to honor Goldman Sachs in a time of financial collapse caused by their unethical business practices and greed, and deplores the use of our cause and suffering for corporate public relations. HRC honoring Goldman Sachs at this time reveals all one needs to know about the corporate LGBT lobby, and its disconnect from the 99% and the LGBT people it purports to represent.

"2.  The Queer Caucus calls upon HRC to embrace the grassroots demand for Full Federal Equality by 2014 – the 50th Anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.   

After 60 years of struggle, there is still not a single federal non-discrimination law protecting LGBT Americans from discrimination.  More incredibly, HRC, the corporate entity that controls our strategy, is not even seeking equal protection for our community.

"To address this, the Queer Caucus calls on HRC to take The Pledge for Full LGBT Equality to seek and secure full non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identify for all people.

"The right to be protected from discrimination secures a core liberty interest. And it is the duty of government to protect LGBT Americans from the harm caused by discrimination as a matter of public welfare, law and conscience, as it has for decades for all other oppressed groups.

"As HRC restrains the demand for equality, discrimination takes its insidious toll on LGBT Americans who suffer vast psychological harm rejected by their families and society, driven to suicide at 5 times the heterosexual norm by tormenting, minority stress afflictions, and lost hope.

"A whopping 40% of homeless youth identity as LGBT, 66% of Transgender people have been fired or not hired for a job, 60% of our youth are taunted and feel unsafe at school, and LGBT people are 6x more likely to have multiple mental stress disorders due to societal discrimination.

"Homo/transphobia in America is a public health and economic emergency for our community” said Michael Tikile, an occupier and Duke University graduate. “We are not safe in school, work or housing. How are we supposed to live, pursue happiness or achieve economic equality?”

"3.  The Queer Caucus also demand that HRC open the process with transparency and grassroots inclusion.

"Currently, HRC operates under a closed, hierarchical system, controlled by a financial elite, insulated from grassroots input.   Likewise, in Congress, Democrat House members Barney Frank, Jared Polis and Tammy Baldwin, keep the grassroots out of the conversation, protecting the DNC strategy from movement agitation and impact.

"With this structure in place, queer occupiers know that only a handful of privileged voices are setting the national queer agenda and strategy, defining what “LGBT equality” means and who our friends are. 

"For example, HRC's key sponsors includes a long list of big businesses that contributed to recent economic and environmental distress, including Citi Bank, Bank of America, Chevron, BP, Shell, Morgan Stanley, MetLife, Deloitte, Lexus, Prudential, and Ernst & Young.

“With all of these companies, you’d expect the power to be on our side!  But instead, our community is simply a tool and pawn in the political system” said Tanya Walker, an original occupier and tireless transgender activist.

"Simply put, the Queer Caucus demands equal non-discrimination protections under the 1964 Civil Rights Act because equality is the only true antidote to LGBT abuse  - like it has proven to be for race, sex, national origin, religion, age and disability – long protected from discrimination by law.

"Equality and non-discrimination are universal values that define basic human dignity” said Todd (Tif) Fernandez, a human rights lawyer and grassroots activist.“It is our civic duty as Americans to protect and respect the LGBT community immediately.”

I was in NYC Dec 1-2 and when I was there Zuccotti Park was mostly empty.