Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Proposition 8 opponents seek Supreme Court case; Democratic platform may support gay marriage


The original proponents of California’s Proposition 8 are petitioning the Supreme Court to review the two decisions overturning it in the 2012-2013 term.

The Ninth Circuit had indicated that one can’t deny same-sex couples the use of the word “marriage” without turning their people into second-class citizens, available at the behest of the needs of others regardless of choice.

The Huffington Post has a link for the story by Nick Wing here

Also, in the Washington DC area, some African-American pastors are reported to be organizing opposition to president Obama in the presidential campaign because of his reluctant support of same-sex marriage.

But Chris Johnson, of the Washington Blade, is reporting that the Democratic Party 2012 platform may well include a statement supporting same-sex marriage, link.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Amazon chief ups ante with support of gay marriage in Washington State


Amazon’s Jeff Bezos entered the fray on the use of money and fame to support political causes with a large personal donation supporting gay marriage, specifically to help support a “yes” vote ratifying a new Washington state law supporting same-sex unions, Referendum 74, on Nov. 6.

Forbes has an article, “Jeff Bezos kicks straight support for gay marriage up a notch”, link here

CNN was debating the idea, suggesting an ethical issue with the way celebrities use fame, and businesspersons use money to support social causes.  I took a third path, without fame or a lot of money, but just low costs, determination, and some social detachment to influence debate (as with gays in the military) by staying online for 15 years with user-generated content and leveraging user generated content.  That effort raised questions about “the privilege of being listened to”, as I have debated with myself on my main blog.  It also raises the issue of my dislike of joining fundraising issues for specific “other people’s causes”. 
  
Remember, on June 25, the Supreme Court had  (implicitly) rejected a Montana’s campaign finance laws or mechanisms, and given a green light to “money speech” (see Issues Blog, June 23 and 25).  That seems to contradict my own concern over “conflict of interest” in the workplace, as mentioned yesterday in conjunction with “Chick Fil A”.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Chick Fil A" remarks on marriage opens a pandora's box of ethical and maybe legal problems


Dan Cathy, president of the “Chick Fil A” fast food chain, says his company has always been supportive of the traditional family.

So he says he’s “guilty as charged” in a Baptist Press interview here.
  
That brought a lot of protests from the gay community, according to Tiffany Hsu of the Los Angeles Times, here

But now, according to Reuters, the mayors of Boston and Chicago say that the chain is no longer welcome in their respective cities, link.  

I was having dinner this evening, on the way back from a trip, at the Frost Diner in Warrenton, VA, and overheard a debate at the counter over whether the mayors are out of line.  The man, implying (or saying) he was a purist libertarian, said that in this country corporate presidents, like anyone else, should enjoy freedom of speech without incurring the wrath of local politicians.  (By the way, the Frost Diner has been there forever.  In April, 1961, I had breakfast there with some high school friends on the way to my first Shenandoah hike.)

The discussion in the restaurant did not “go there” with gun control and Colorado, but it did get into the area as to whether average citizens have a responsibility to go to the police directly (outside a workplace chain of command) in Sandusky-like situations.  It was a lively dinner debate indeed, in a small “conservative” Virginia town.

While eating, I also remembered the flap over Cracker Barrel “Ole Country Store”, which had the habit of firing gay employees and bragging about it in the mid 1990s until exposed by ABC.  I’ve eaten at that chain just once that I can remember, in December 1996, on the way back from a “field” trip to the Greenbrier to research a small matter for my first DADT book. 

So, we have libertarians saying that the market place will fix discrimination by itself, while the gay lobby insists that ENDA is necessary.  ENDA, remember, was first introduced in 1993.

As for the president of “Chick Fil A”: there’s another reason for caution on making public statements on controversial social issues.  It could, in some circumstances, lead to hostile workplace claims.  I written a lot before on my blogs and websites about this implicit “conflict of interest” problem.

Note that the "gay couple" issue has affected accommodations, too.  A few bed-and-breakfasts around the country have refused to rent to them, usually invoking a media response.  Some, perhaps most, have then relented. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today's gay men don't know what it was like to live through the 1980s, when AIDS first appeared


On Tuesday morning, July 24, the Style Section of the Washington Post has a big story by Dan Zak, “You don’t know, You weren’t there, You didn’t live through it”.  Online, it’s called “In 2012, AIDS is a different beast for gay men in D.C.”, link here.  

The online article has a slide show of black-and-white images from the 80s.

The print article also has a photo of men on the patio deck of another club, the Rock and Roll Hotel, in NE Washington, a bar that I have never visited.

The article details stories of men occasionally becoming infected after just one instance on unprotected sex. This has happened with the elderly, and with the teenagers.  While less probable today than in the 80s, it does happen.

The article also describes the dread in the 80s of men finding Kaposi’s Sarcoma lesions, or visiting doctors about innocuous marks which they could not identify.  I remember those days.  Once you realized the dread, you started looking often.  I once had a biopsy (in July 1983) of something that turned out to be random inflammation.

In those days, Charles Ortleb’s newspaper “The New York Native” covered the epidemic graphically; I had a mail subscription and received it in Dallas every week.  It would have scare headlines like “Guess What Just Hit 4000” and then “Exposing Mathilde Krim”.  

In those days, there were lots of rumors about a government facility on Long Island (some of the reporting by Ortleb's friend, John Beldakas), and about arboviruses.   That wasn’t good, because the religious right could invent predictions that the virus would eventually become spread by insects (mosquitoes) after being “amplified” by gay men.  The Dallas Gay Alliance (in those days led by a visible gay male couple, Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo) had to fight off a draconian bill, HR2138, in the Texas legislature in 1983, trying to ban gays from almost all occupations.  The worst right wing proposals got circulated before HHS could announce a cause (first called HTLV-III) and a test, in 1984. Ironically, the Texas sodomy law 2106 had already been declared by a local federal judge in 1982 (Baker v. Wade).

Today, CNN had Sanjay Gupta reporting from the AIDS Conference at the Washington Convention Center.   The conference is being held in the US for the first time since 1990 because the US banned people having HIV from entering the country until 2009.   Gupta reported on a new drug that could be taken to prevent HIV infection, to somehow harden the T4 cells and make it impossible for the virus to enter them.  
Gupta also reported on a man in Germany “cured” of HIV with a bone marrow transplant.

Apparently you have to be paid and pre-registered to attend sessions, that go on until Friday. 

There is supposed to be another demonstration in DC Tuesday afternoon.

(Note on mismatch: title of URL has "day" in name because of typo, should be "gay")

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Clubs in DC host out-of-town visitors for XIX AIDS Conference in Washington


Saturday night, the Town DC did have a big party, slightly larger than usual, but with a large number of people from out-of-town for the (21st)  “ XIX International Age Conference July 22-27 Washington DC”.  There will be more coverage on the conference on the Issues blog.

I met someone from Toronto, later a gentleman closer to my own age from Indiana. And early in the evening, I encountered someone I had known from the Minnesota AIDS Project (“Pride Alive”), now living in Seattle.  This was definitely a night for “interleague play”.   

The “drag show” continued upstairs a bit, on the elevated stage on the East side of the disco floor.  But this night, it seemed that things were actually more “festive” (a term from my Dallas days) downstairs.

The cooler (only about 70 degrees outside), damp, almost early October-like weather was welcome.  It can be like this in DC at Thanksgiving.  Curiously, traffic on U Street was not as dense as usual.

By the way, the Town Discotheque shows up by name on Google Maps if you type in "U Street" and Washington DC.

P.S. A "clubby" and familiar video, from Brooklyn, by Arvo Part:


Friday, July 20, 2012

Estate of NY lesbian couple figures into major DOMA challenge


The Washington Post has a major story on the front Style page Friday, “Pioneers in marriage, and now in court: For N.Y. Woman, challenge to Defense of Marriage Act is about more than a tax bill”, by Manuel Roig-Franzia.  The link is here.

This is the case of Thea Spyer and Edie Windsor, who married in Canada and whose marriage was eventually recognized by New York State.  Thea died of heart disease in 2009. 

Edie is facing a huge estate tax bill on the appreciation of real estate assets (unusual given the economy).  In such situations, sometimes the survivor cannot continue living in the place but must sell to pay the taxes.

The legal argument, according to the article, is whether Congress had a power to pass DOMA to encourage children to be raised by parents of both genders. The argument seems to have little to do with the actual relationship between the women. 

Thea and Edie enjoyed a long relationship but never raised any children.

Why not arrange the law so that the benefits of “marriage” accrue only if and when there are real dependents?  I had posed that question in Chapter 5 of my 1997 DADT book.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

ABC Nightline presents Josh Weed, openly gay but traditionally married with children in the Mormon Church


ABC Nightline, with Neil Karlinsky, aired a report about Josh and Laurel Weed, a traditional Mormon family with children.  Josh says he is attracted only to men, but married Laurel and raised a family out of love of God.

His wife says that Josh gave up the most important part of himself out of his love of God. 
    
The link on ABC is here.

It’s important in the video (in the link) to listen to how Laurel explains their relationship.  “He loves me… I am the most beautiful woman in the world to him.”

Josh has a blog in which he explains this here

The blog was hard to load tonight because of very heavy volume.

I dated women for about four months in 1971, but I don’t think that, in my emotional circumstances, that I could have made such a commitment (as Laurel would explain it), or expected one.  But, for me, if something really goes wrong, it can be over.  It hasn’t, and I’m 69.

The report said that the Mormon Church no longer conforms homosexual orientation, but does (like the Vatican) demand that it not be acted on.  It sees having a family (that is, cultivating the capability to have one) as a moral duty.  It sees refusal to enter the emotional world of family as an affront to God.

The LDS Church was, however, heavily behind Proposition 8 in California.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Eagle Scout in Missouri expelled for telling camp director that he is gay

An Eagle Scout was kicked out of a Boy Scout camp in Missouri after he told the camp director that he is gay.  The story if Eric Jones, 19, was run in various media, including the New York Daily News (link).

The incident will also be covered in the upcoming documentary "Second Class Citizens" by Ryan James Yezak.

Some components of BSA deny that a policy change is under consideration, despite widespread reports that BSA will soon let troops decide locally.

The lifting of the military's "don't ask don't tell" policy should provide psychological pressure.

Update:

Unfortunately, ABC News has reported that BSA leadership now reaffirms its ban on gays as members or leaders, here.

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CNN reports this as a ban on "open" or "avowed" gays, similar to the military's former "don't ask don't tell", link here

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Arlington VA group holds picnic


Saturday afternoon, among weak popup showers and thunderstorms (post-derecho), the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA)  held an annual picnic, a small affair near the WOD bike trail in Arlington VA’ Glencarylyn Park.

It was pot luck, with the leanest charcoal hamburger patties I have ever enjoyed.

The website for AGLA is here.

Saturday night, I made it to Town DC, but re-injured my hyperextended ankle as I stepped off a platform in the dark.  That happens sometimes.  By 12:30 PM or so, post-pride and mid-summer (but on night not particularly hot), it was as crowded as it ever gets. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Episcopal church approves provisional rite for same-sex unions


The House of Deputies for the Episcopal Church approved a provisional rite for same-sex unions, and is already said to be the largest denomination body to do so.

The measure passed with 78% of the lay order and 76% of the clergy.

In 2003, the Church had dealt with the issue of recognizing gay clergy with the ordination of Gene Robinson, at the convention in Minneapolis (the film “Love Free or Die” on the movies blog, May 7, 2012). 

Becky Bretau has the story on MSNBC and USNews here

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Ex-gay leader renounces reparative therapy, says Christians should not single out gays for negative attention


Erik Eckholm has an important story on p. A9 of the Saturday New York Times, “Rift forms in movement as belief in gay ‘cure’ is renounced”.  Alan Chambers, 40, the leader of Exodus, renounced many of the group’s beliefs, when he said that active gays could be “saved” and when he denounced the claims made about “reparative therapy” by Exodus and decried the “ex-gay myth”. Chambers declared bluntly that “there is no cure for homosexuality”.  The continuation of  (Orlando-based) Exodus International (whose site is marked as red by MyWOT on Mozilla, but is green according to McAfee) would seem to be in question.

The link for the story is here.

One particular quote from Mr. Chambers deserves special note. While saying that any experience of sexuality outside of heterosexual monogamous marriage is “sinful”, he added “But we’ve been asking people with same-sex attractions to overcome something in a way that we don’t ask of anyone else.”

I’ve wondered for decades why homosexuality had been singled out for “blanket condemnation”, as with my own experiences at William and Mary and NIH in the early 1960s.  It has seemed that some people looked at it as an existential threat to the family and civilization that some members would have access to sexuality with absolutely no participation in the risks and responsibilities of procreation, which they believe must be shared by every competent adult in a community (otherwise the community itself would be “violated”).   Of course, in practice, “heterosexuals” usually have the same access.  Yet, in the world of the 50s, it appeared to me that homosexuality was dreaded even more than heterosexual adultery.  Perhaps this was a matter of visible perspective. After all, I am an only child, and since I didn’t reproduce, the lineage that could have grown (into infinity) out of my parents’ marriage died.

Poorer cultures today, as in Uganda, sometimes think this way.  It’s a notion that “social conservatives” can exploit for political purposes.   

The exploding problem of eldercare has the potential to turn the “childlessness” debate on its head, however. 

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Presbyterian General Assembly makes progress on gay marriage -- but not "enough"


A General Assembly Committee of the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved an amendment that would recognize same-sex marriage early this month in Pittsburgh.

The action was taken by the Civil Union and Marriage Committee of the 220th General Assembly.  This consisted of a change to the Directory of Worship to recognize marriage between “two persons” as compared to “a man and a woman”.

The link for the story is here.

However, according to an email that I got this morning from More Light Presbyterians, the full Assembly to not ratify the motion.    The closest account online seems to be this link.

The text of the email is from Anthony Hebblethwaite is as follows:

“Presbyterian Church (USA) Discusses Marriage; Misses Historic Opportunity

“Pittsburgh, PA ? Today, the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) discussed two different ways to expand the 2 million member denomination?s understanding of marriage to include committed same-sex couples. While neither option ultimately collected the majority of votes needed to begin the ratification process, this discussion marked another step towards making the Presbyterian Church (USA) a truly inclusive church.

"While it is disappointing that the Church missed this historic opportunity to move toward full inclusion, the fact that so many Presbyterians from around the country called for the Church to recognize love between committed same-gender couples was awe-inspiring to see." said Michael J. Adee, Executive Director, More Light Presbyterians. ?We have more work to do to show those who oppose full inclusion how truly wonderful the gifts that committed, married same-sex couples bring to our church. We?re inspired by the progress we?ve made together and are just as committed to continuing this work, together.?

“The Civil Union and Marriage Committee recommended overture 13-04 to amend W-4.9001, the Directory of Worship to change the characterization of marriage from a "man and a woman" to "two persons." The Directory of Worship is part of the Book of Order, the PCUSA's Constitution.  This is the first time an overture like this has been debated by a Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly.

“The second overture would have issued an authoritative interpretation that would permit ministers residing in states where marriage between same-sex couples is already legal to preside at same-sex wedding ceremonies. This overture would have clarified a confusing limbo that many Presbyterian ministers find themselves in as more and more states recognize same-sex marriage.

“Rev. Heidi Peterson, pastor, Central Presbyterian Church, Kansas City, Missouri and Co-Moderator, More Light Presbyterians said: ?As a Presbyterian minister, my job is to provide pastoral care to the real people I serve in my congregation and in my community. Today, our church missed an opportunity to not only take a bold step towards love, but to also clarify confusion that ministers across the country are facing as more and more states expand their recognition of marriage to include same-sex couples. While we didn?t take this step forward today, I have faith that the Presbyterian Church (USA) will one day soon stand on the side of love.?

“This progress on marriage equality follows on the heels of a 2011 amendment to open ordination in the church to include gay and lesbian candidates.

“More Light Presbyterians is a national network of Presbyterians working for the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.”

Thursday, July 05, 2012

DOJ asks Supreme Court to rule on DOMA; Roanoke VA health club relents on same-sex couples after pressure from Change.org


The United States Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to take up Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which would prohibit the federal government from offering federal benefits to partners (like social security for surviving spouses) in same sex couples.

The case in the Ninth Circuit is Goliniski v. OPM
 . 
The Lambda Legal press release is here

There is a case in Roanoke, VA where the Carilion Clinic  (a gym and pool) had refused a family membership to a male couple with an adopted son, but rescinded under pressure from a Change.org petition. The story on The Revivalist blog is here

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Lutheran group has conference in DC to deal with sexual orientation in the church


Reconciliation Works: Lutherans for Full Participation (formerly Lutherans Concerned of North America and Reconciling in Christ) will hold a conference in Washington DC July 6-10.  The conference will address sexual orientation in the clergy and recognizing same-sex relationships.

The link for the group is here

The group sent a press release by email.  The text reads that the group adopted its new name “to better reflect their ongoing ministry with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, their families and congregations throughout the denomination.

“The first-ever presentation by a presiding bishop of the 4.2 million member ELCA Lutheran denomination follows a 2009 ELCA assembly decision to drop the prohibition against partnered gay and lesbian ministers. The Evangelical Luther Church in Canada in 2011 also voted to permit marriage or blessing of same-gender couples.”


Monday, July 02, 2012

Anderson Cooper "tells"


Anderson Cooper “officially” came out as gay today, according to MSNBC and Andrew Sullivan’s “Daily Beast” website.

Cooper has been particularly aggressive in reporting abuse of minors, especially the whole Sandusky scandal and trial, and was probably instrumental in forcing this and several other cases into law enforcement by relentless coverage on his AC360 and daily shows.

He has also vigorously covered bullying, both cyber and regular, both anti-gay and other. His coverage probably contributed to the vigorous prosecution in the Rutgers case involving Tyler Clementi.

His pet (perhaps trademarked) phrase is “keeping them honest”, as well as his Ridculist.  The concept of “keeping them honest” resembles my “do ask do tell”.

The daytime show tends to focus on sensational personal issues of people, but has been empathetic to families. But sometimes he has to say he is not a parent himself. 

Cooper lives in NYC, although CNN is headquartered in Atlanta.  He spent early years as a journalist in primitive areas in SE Asia.  He reports from overseas often, especially in war and rebellion related areas.

 On the day before the 2008 financial crisis, he was reporting from Texas on Hurricane Rita, wading in a flood.

The MSNBC story (by Gail Fashingbauer Cooper) is here

Andrew Sullivan’s column is here.  

Three major syndicated daily talk shows have “gay” hosts:  Ellen, Nate, and Anderson.

Picture: a guest at Baltimore Pride.