Monday, December 30, 2013

Justice Scalia's "worst fears"; do the family relationships of others "really" affect "you"?

Justice Antonni Scalia’s “worst fears” (expressed in his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas) that invalidating the Texas homosexual-only sodomy law in 2003 under due process or equal protection arguments would eventually compel governments to recognize gay marriage seem to be coming true, according to a Washington Post article Sunday by Robert Barnes, link here.

The comments on the article are interesting, especially one from “Blu-Dog Ex-Dem” who asks bluntly, “Do other people’s family relationships affect you? This has been studied and the answer is, of course. Why pretend otherwise?”  Some of what gets said here sounds irrelevant, but then the person notes that when one’s sibling has a child, the probability that person will have a child within two years increases.
Another distant story today on CNN reports “LGBT in Uganda, seeking acceptance from family, homeland” notes the horror of the passage of the vitriolic bill, and the deliberate outing of gays by tabloids. An Anglican Bishop there is quoted as saying, “We love gay people … we want them to repent.” Ordinary Ugandans are depicted as believing that homosexuality is a plot of colonialists to control the country. 

All of this points out a particular line of thought.  Many men see the complementarity demanded by longterm heterosexual marriage as challenging.  But they may be more likely to feel up to it if they think everyone else does.  To say that you love people enough to demand that they repent is to say that you need to see a particular standard of righteousness from others, so you can do yourself what you know is difficult.  That’s how I would answer Blu-Dog’s remark (although I haven’t logged on to the Post to do so yet; I hardly have time).  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Indiana could become a test ground for gay marriage in conservative states

Indiana may have a vote in 2014 on a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, and the ban would be like Virginia's, essentially banning recognition of domestic partnerships.
However, the political climate even in this conservative state is getting more nuanced, and activists see a chance to pull off a big "win" in stopping the amendment.

Monica Dacvey has a story in the New York Times today, here.

I spent a summer in 1970 in Indianapolis on my first job (with RCA), and found the culture rather insular and provincial then,  Yet, the company then called it a "nice place" until it pulled out of manufacturing televisions there.
Picture: near the site of the RCA plant on Meridian St, Indianapolis (2012). 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Utah's gay marriage case: a nice domino roll for other states? What about Marshall-Newman in Virginia?

Utah’s sudden development on gay marriage may be the biggest domino to fall, in getting other conservative states to follow, according to a “liberal” Washington Post story Christmas Eve by Niraj Chokshi and Carol Morello, link here
The federal judge (Robert Shelby) refused to delay his own ruling, and the 10th Circuit also refused a stay, so gay marriages in Salt Lake City run track. 
The Washington Blade has a brief analysis by Chris Johnson on the 10th Circuit’s possibilities here
I recall meeting with the late Steve Snyder from William and Mary GALA around 2006 about Marshall-Newman, which may soon come under legal challenge in Virginia, as some cases are building, as reported by the Blade.  I’ll come back to these cases later. 

The Post story referred to “mormonsandgays” with a discussion of the Church’s more updated teaching that sexual orientation itself could be immutable, but acting on homosexual interest is a sin. That would beg the question, why should some people be singled out for such a personal sacrifice?  Yet, religion often stresses that different people are called upon to make varied and seemingly unjust sacrifices for the welfare of the group (the Vatican says that).  A year or so ago, ABC Nightline covered a Mormon family where the husband had told his wife he was gay but the wife honored his willingness to “sacrifice” is deepest sexual or personal longings for God.  That’s a challenging view of morality.   The major group for gay Mormons is “Affirmation”.   (There is a site called “gays and Mormons” that sends back “Come back soon”).  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Duck" and free anti-gay speech; a warm Christmas weekend in the clubs

I did indeed find the reported anti-gay and apparent racist comments by “Duck Dynasty” Phil Robertson shocking.  I do understand the free speech arguments, as well as A-and-E’s right as a private entity to make and enforce a contract with its producers.
The problem is that speech like this sometimes incites others into criminal activity.  I have to say that even as I believe in the concept of “personal responsibility”.  Although not likely, someone like me could someday be on the receiving end of an act like that, and it could be over for me.  There is a point where something like this becomes a threat.
It’s noteworthy that Cracker Barrel, once notorious for its own anti-gay employment policies from the early 1990s, pulled Duck’s products from its “Ole Country Store” businesses that dot our interstates. (Note: More recent reports late Sunday indicate that Cracker Barrel reversed itself and restored the products.)
More important, is to ask where Robertson’s ideas come from?  God? Scripture?  Is he motivated by the need to feel superior to someone (me) and enforce his domination?  Is he motivated by the idea that whatever is different becomes a potential enemy?  Probably this is all true.  Is he motivated by some train of thought?  That gets more troubling.  Maybe he believes every adult should share in the responsibility of raising the next generation. Maybe he thinks that someone less competitive physically (like me) “gets out of things” and depends on others to sacrifice and take risks for him.  Maybe he would see my own “Calvinistic” attitude toward forming attachments toward others (within a family-centered context) as morally problematic, although I doubt his thinking gets this refined.  (See main blog, Dec. 15).  In any case, it’s hard to see what his “thinking” would add up to as anything logically meaningful.

On another matter:  Last night was an unusually mild evening for Christmas season.  The Town crowd seemed a little smaller than usual but was vigorous. The disco did not decorate for Christmas, but the drag queens dressed up as Santa and then as Christmas trees. 
I wonder if all the real estate construction nearby (next to the 930 Club) means anything.  I hadn’t paid attention to it before. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Obama appoints King, lesbian tennis star, to Olympic delegation, challenges Russian law publicly

President Obama has named Billie Jean King, the former tennis champion, to the official delegation to the US Olympics, putting Russia’s recent anti-gay “propaganda” law on the spotlight.  The San Francisco Chronicle has a typical story here. Obama mentioned gay athletes of great character, and included Brian Boitano, former figure-skating champion, who gets mentioned in the 1999 animated film of "South Park".  (So does "Big Gay Al"). 
The San Francisco story reports that even “gay tourists” could be arrested under the law, which might include people who have visible public blogs, like me.  Putin has promised that visitors to the Olympics will not be harassed.  What does that mean?
In other news, federal courts in both New Mexico and Utah have struck down anti gay-marriage bans, and in Utah there is a sudden rush for gay partners to marry before the decision can be stayed.  
I've covered the most recent developments about anti-gay laws in Uganda and India on my International blog today.  

Thursday, December 19, 2013

"Records of Rights" in Rubenstein Collection at National Archives details the sobering history of gay rights

Today, I visited the National Archives in Washington DC, specifically to see the David M. Rubenstein Gallery and the Records of Rights.

There was an interactive panel, set up in the manner of a tablet computer, near the entrance to the exhibit that covered many areas of individual rights, including rights to privacy and sexuality. The pamphlet from the Archives calls this 17-foot exhibit "A Place at the Table". 
The exhibit gives sobering history of the rights of LGBT people, or to the fundamental right to adult sexual privacy.  The idea is introduced with the banner "We the (Straight) People." It notes that right after World War II, panic over the “Red Scare” set in, and theories developed that homosexuals were morally or psychologically weak and therefore security risks.  It notes that President Eisenhower signed an executive order banning gays from federal employment in 1953, on the basis of sexual orientation alone, without reference to conduct (foreshadowing the debate on the military ban forty years later). 
The exhibit shows two immigration cases, Qurioz v. Neely (1961), in which Quiroz lost a court case in which she could deported as a lesbian for a “psychopathic personality”.  The Supreme Court upheld a similar view in 1967 in Boutilier v. INS. Check the Record of Rights link here. The link for Boutilier is here.  See a discussion at the University of Richmond here. If courts were agreeing with shallow notions of homosexuality as "psychopathic", my 1961 expulsion from William and Mary becomes more understanable. 
The exhibit also detailed Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) and Lawrence v. Texas (2003), emphasizing the idea of self-ownership in the Texas decision/

The Records of Rights also has a poster on the Cuban Refugee incident in 1980, and the "political fallout" when it became known that a large percentage of the refugees were said to be homosexual.
Photography is not permitted at the exhibit, but all the major documents from the Rubenstein collection seem to be online.   

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Short film "Jonathan and Dwayne" depicts Uniformed Military March in San Diego after DADT repeal

“Jonathan & Dwayne: A Story About Love” is a ten minute short film on Vimeo about a military couple which proposed marriage at the San Diego Pride parade and who walked in uniform (one partner is in the Navy and is in whites) in the parade. The couple is Jonathan and Dwayne Beebie-Franqui.
The video was shot March 30, 2013 and is produced by Momentus Films, with Vimeo link here (not emebedable).
The short film is important because until the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” servicemembers couldn’t march in gay parades in uniforms.
Yahoo has an account of the Uniformed Military March (July 21, 2012)  here and Politico has a similar story here.

The 1993 “don’t ask don’t tell” law had actually mentioned gay marriage as creating a presumption of homosexual conduct, even though no state recognized it at the time. 
Picture: University Drive in San Diego, my picture, May 2012.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Utah (federal) ruling on polygamy reflects on Lawrence v. Texas, even gay marriage; a personal trip to the Tarheel State

On Sunday, the New York Times reported, on p A19, the federal judge Clark Waddoups in Utah had invalidated part of a Utah law banning polygamy, specifically language regarding “cohabitation” on due process and First Amendment grounds.  He left in place the parts banning legal recognition of polygamous marriage. The story is by John Schwartz.
The ruling (link) referred to the Lawrence v. Texas sodomy law decision in 2003, particularly Kennedy’s reported language on personal autonomy or self-ownership.  The ruling would seem to discredit the idea that accepting gay marriage would lead to legal recognition of polygamy. The ruling seemed also to answer Scalia’s dissent in the 2003 opinion.
The New York Times article is here

On Anderson Cooper's AC360, a spokesperson for young women who were victimized by Warren Jeffs and the FLDS said that this decision doesn't recognize the deliberate abuse of women and mockery of their ability to "consent". 
On a personal note, I visited the club “Legends” in Raleigh, NC Sunday night (Dec. 15) while traveling.  The crowd as moderate, but there were some very attractive dancers, and some contact seemed to be allowed.  (It is not allowed in Washington DC but was in Minnesota when I lived there; however photography of dancing models was not allowed in Minnesota). 
I also drove past the St. Johns Metropolitan Community Church, between downtown and Fletcher Park in Raleigh. I had attended a service there in July 1994 after a very personal soliloquy in the park.  I still remember that particular Sunday morning, about the time of my 51st birthday.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kaposi's Sarcoma, once common in MSM with AIDS, is definitely itself caused by a different herpes virus

During the height of medical coverage of AIDS in the 1980s and early 1990s, Kaposi’s Sarcoma as often the first “opportunistic disease” presented by MSM confirming a diagnosis of “full blown AIDS”.  Over time, KS gradually became less frequent as a presenting symptom, and today is no longer widely discussed.
What’s interesting now is that Wikipedia flatly notes that KS lesions are caused directly by a herpes virus, type 8.   (An early theory in the 1980s had been poppers.)  The increase in use of condoms among MSM would have been effective in preventing or reducing transmission of both HIV and of HHV8, explaining the gradual decline of KS in gay men.  It is likely that KS in elderly Jewish men in some parts of Russia is also related to HHV8.  KS is usually “multifocal”, originating repeatedly rather than metastasizing.  But it can become destructive and rapidly fatal when it forms in the lungs or GI tract. 
The HHV8 virus can also cause one form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma more common with AIDS, and it may be more “effective” in producing lymphoma when Epstein-Barr virus, a similar herpes virus, is present.
At one time, the idea that viruses directly cause cancer was seen as speculative. But by 1983, a viruses related to HIV called HTLV-1 had caused a T-cell leukemia in Asia, with opportunistic infections often similar to those of AIDS.
It’s curious that in the late 1970s, clusters of Hodgkins Disease were reported in some areas of the country, especially the Northeast, and that speculation of association with EBV was mentioned then.  All of this a few years before HIV exploded in the MSM community.  All very interesting. The most important Wikipedia article is here.  HHV8 is apparently rather ubiquitous, and harmless until someone is immunocompromised 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bar has a "no photography" sign -- a thrownback to the 50s, or a future trend?

Last night, after dinner at KammerBooks on Dupont Circle – this bookstore has to serve the function of Lambda Rising, which closed at the end of 2009, but it’s still going strong  -- I walked down P Street toward the West End Cinema and poked my head in to the Fireplace Bar out of curiosity.  It has been at the corner of 23rd and P for decades and I don’t go there often.
I saw a no photography sign at the entrance.  I don’t think I can recall seeing such a sign in a bar before.  The website doesn’t mention such a policy. 
However, I recall seeing a “no cell phone use” sign at the Eagle.  That may be the point of such a sign. In New York  City, at the Black Party in March 2012, I overheard announcers on the street telling attendees that they would have to turn in cell phones, as I walked past and went to a “free” party at the Therapy nearby in Hells Kitchen.  In 2011, in a popular bar and dance floor in Minneapolis called the Saloon, I noticed a no photography sign that appeared to apply only to the dancers in a wet stall.  It was interesting, though, that the dance floor was always enshrouded in artificial fog. In Dallas, at a bar called Suellen's  (on the Cedar Springs strip, in 2011), there is a sign warning about uncivil behavior, but I don't recall that it mentioned photography (which could hardly work because the place often has small rock and jazz concerts in place of a dance floor, next door at the Station 4).  
Photography has long been common at drag shows.  There is a general courtesy that people consent to appearing in “group” pictures taken in bars.  There is sometimes a belief that it you dance or show off on an elevated stage in a disco, or somehow deliberately attract attention you can expect to be noticed and photographed.  People in costumes expect to wind up in social media.  But since about mid 2011 or so, people have become more sensitive to simply appearing in random or targeted photos from strangers, probably because of increasing concerns over online reputation and possible tagging of photos in social media.  For several years before 2011, there seemed to be little concern over photo courtesy. That’s a little bit ironic, in fact, when you remember that the official repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” for military members occurred in 2011.
The sign at the entry of the Fireplace may be a throwback to the 1950’s, when people feared showing up in newspapers.  I “came of age” publicly in 1973, after the worst was over; but when I lived in Dallas, raids on bars to nab people occurred as late as 1980. 
The area around 23rd and P doesn’t seem as popular for clubs (the “Pop Stop” is there), with the loss of the Omega and Apex; activity seems to move East, toward U Street.

One other note about Kammerbooks. I bought a couple of policy books, and noticed with some glee a book called "An Unofficial Dictionary of Snark"

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Surveys find that geography really matters for openness

The New York Times Review section today has an interesting perspective by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, “How many American men are gay?, link here. He gives us a US map showing relative level acceptance of homosexuality. The lowest levels consistently apply from Texas to the Carolinas (Florida is better; maybe they got over Anita Bryant).  The most “tolerant” (or “accepting”) is Rhode Island; the least is Mississippi.  Rhode Island shows a 5.5 times a rate of male high school students identifying themselves as gay than does Mississippi on Facebook. But in Mississippi 50% more wives search for “Is my husband gay?”  The writer points out that high school students and many others are not mobile enough to live in a more accepting area.
Again, we beg the question, where does (and did) intolerance really come from?  Why would a man be more intolerant of another man who will probably never have children but also never be a romantic rival for his wife?  I think the unpredictability or capriciousness of luck ultimately has something to do with it.
The best answer for the question posed by the article seems to be about 5%.

Last night, I briefly visited the Cobalt (after leaving the Kennedy Center) and found the Rumba Latina party going on.  The Town may take a lot of the “usual” crowd (last night there was to be another running of the “Crack” show).   I’ve never been one to find too much interest in a theme based on a specific ethnicity, although in large cities in more liberal states, “minority” cultures are more accepting of homosexuality than in the past;  nevertheless, the theme doesn’t really affect the crowd much.  Likewise, country and western (Remingtons) doesn’t impress me too much – although it plays big in Dallas (the Roundup).  Downstairs (last night) the music sometimes shifted back to more ordinary fare.  Why not have more 80s music nights? 

Thursday, December 05, 2013

NYTimes reports appalling rate of HIV in impoverished black and Latino MSM; Mandela had spoken for gay rights

Impoverished black and Hispanic men are accounting for 25-45% of new HIV infections in gay men (or MSM) in most cities, but up to 80% in men under 25.  Even so, white men may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors.  All of this is in a New York Times story today by Donald G. McNeil, MD, link here.
This may help explain why, socially, in many circles younger white men or affluent men of any race are not hearing much about new HIV cases in their social circles the way we did in the 1980s, when I was living in Dallas. 
It also has a huge impact on the nature of the volunteer work that goes on, at Whitman Walker and Food and Friends, which has probably come to demand much more refined social skills than it used to a couple decades ago. 
On the other hand, the public concerns of gay men living in college campuses have shifted away from AIDS itself to the same problems everyone else faces.  Today, certain forms of bacterial meningitis, which could lead to amputations in the most gruesome cases, have attracted great concern, to the point that the CDC has to consider using an unapproved European vaccine for one of the deadlier strains.  Students living in dormitories should consider vaccination, and the FDA should consider approval of the new Type B vaccine immediately.  Health officials should address the usefulness of the vaccine for HIV-infected and possibly immunocomrpomised students.

On another matter, CNN sources are commenting on how Nelson Mandela, who passed away today, stoop up for LGBT people, which was unprecedented in South Africa.  The Metropolitan Communitty Church of Dallas in 1980 hired Joan Wakeford as a pastor from South Africa, when I was living there, at a time when things were very bad.  I remember seeing Richard Attenborough’s “Cry Freedom” (Universal) with a boyfriend at Northpark in Dallas in 1987 – a film made well before Mandela’s release, about a journalist who has to escape from the country to get a book published about a black prisoner who dies in police custody.  Ted Koppel talked about South African on Nightline all the time in those days.  

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

UK newspaper, Sport Lobster both report on more openly gay athletes

More Olympic and potentially professional male athletes are announcing that they are gay publicly, according to a big article by Adam Sherwin in the British news site “Independent” with a story about track medalist Tom Daley, link here

Other stars are rugby player Gareth Thomas, former Washington Wizards NBA star Jason Collins (who has not found a team), cricket player Stephen Davies, United football player Robbie Rogers, and skater John Curry.
Yup, we wait to hear about this in some US sports, like hockey and Major League Baseball.  The major league franchisers are all coming on board with non-discrimination policies.  Think Progress has a big story July 16, 2013 here (MLB's own link is here). Inevitably, we will hear more announcements, especially in the US.  There are some gifted men who did not go into sports because of an implicit "ban" in the past.  But years ago, Dave Kopay wrote a book about being gay (and in the closet) in the NFL. 
I did get an email press release about Daley from Sport Lobster, and there's blog post of the release here

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Gay press aggressive in full rights for military couples; can we regress if Obmacare causes Democrats to lose it all in 2014, 2016?

Lead Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson has a front page story on the Black Friday edition of the Blade, “How goes transition to open military service? Don’t ask”, link here
The focus of the article is overwhelmingly about equal benefits for military and veteran families of same-sex couples.  There are problems with some states’ national guard units (although Texas has finally agreed to start processing the benefits) because of state constitutions and a disagreement over “federalism”.  There are real problems with veterans not married in states recognizing marriage.

There seem to be no tensions at all in the units being reported, despite all the predictions about "privacy" and "unit cohesion" made when the debate started in 1993.  There was, however, an odd issue with a hire of an ex-gay advocate at the Air Force Academy.
It sound like pouring ice water, but can the really astounding progress in the military issue since 2009 (which started slowly but whipped up late in 2010 with the repeal law, and the official recognition in September 2011) be undone if the Democratic Party tanks badly in 2014 and 2016 over the Obamacare rollout and actuarial fiasco?
Seriously, it (Obamacare) may indeed get better quickly on 2014, and prices for “the healthy” but underemployed may well come down if the insurance exchanges get their acts together.  But I do wonder if there is a real danger if the GOP winds up in full control in 2016.  It can be argued that the nation’s finances might be more stable since the partisan bickering that almost led to default would stop – but we can always have another 2008 or worse anyway, or another national security debacle as we did with Bush.
Christie will probably be very moderate on gay issues and not try to roll back military progress or on ENDA or marriage rights, for that matter.  He really does sound like someone who wants to govern and do the job.  I worry about some other potential candidates, though (Cruz). 
Last night, by the way, I just sat for a quiet evening of Karaoke at Freddie’s in Arlington.  Holiday weekend crowd was good there, but I don’t know how it would have been “in town”. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

University in Chicago holds an "Operation: Do Ask, Do Tell" symposium for LGBT veterans

For the record, I wanted to note that I found an account of a conference called “Operation: Do Ask, Do Tell” at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) which was held Oct. 20, 2012 (not 2013, at least in this account) in Chicago, to help LGBT veterans network, particular in areas of employment and benefits.  The link is here. The school is said to be “military friendly”. The conference emphasized services for trangender veterans.

 I recall a transgender Naval Intelligence agent appearing on Scott Peck's radio show in Washington DC in 1993;  she was forced to leave the uniformed service but got the same job as a civilian employee.  

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Metropolitan Memorial Methodist Church in Washington DC launches "Stop the Trials"

While driving in to a Thanksgiving service elsewhere this morning, I happened to pass the Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church on Nebraska Ave in far NW Washington DC, near Ward Circle and in the highest parts of the city.  I saw a sign with a rainbow and the words “Stop the trials”.  These refer to “trials” within the Methodist denomination for performing same-sex marriage or union ceremonies, or possibly regarding homosexual behavior among clergy itself.
This church is protesting the behavior of its denomination, which it says lags far behind society. Here is its explanation of “Stop the Trials”, link

Thursday, November 21, 2013

CDC hosts webcam on resurgence of HIV among young MSM for LGBT media outlets today

Today, I attended a webcam sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control, “Combatting a Resurgence of HIV Among Young Gay Men”.  I was specifically invited by email and phone call to the event, which I believe was held in New York City.  The webcam said it was for “credentialed journalists only”.  The URL is here. If is offline right now, but CDC says it will release a video.

The host was Thomas Roberts of MSNBC.  The panelists were Jeff Krehely of the Human Rights Campaign, Carl Siciliano (who works with homeless LGBT youth – the last name sounds like a chess opening), Daniel Driffin (from an African-American group) and Dr. Jonathan Mirmin from the CDC.
The session lasted 85 minutes. Toward the end, Mike Lavers of the Washington Blade asked if gay men could face an HIV-free future some day, and Mirmin said that this would be an “aspiration”.
CDC’s fact sheets for MSM, broken down in various categories, are here
HIV rates are increasing among gay men, especially under 25, but the rates seem to be increasing more rapidly among African Americans, and especially among the homeless or among those who were kicked out by their parents.  Siciliano gave an anecdote of a trans-gendered homeless person living with a man who expected unprotected sex in return for a place to live. 
Siciliano mentioned the Campaign for Youth Shelter and the Ali Forney Center.
When I lived in Dallas (1979=1988), there was an attempt to set up a “Safe Place” for homeless LGBT people, and some people at MCC Dallas did help organize the effort around 1980s with founders shares.  The idea came up after there was a request for shelter for LGBT refugees from Cuba in 1980.  Not very many people were prepared to offer them shelter, and some of the groups organizing the efforts seemed unaware of the sacrifice that could be required to house them.  This is a difficult cause to embrace from a personal perspective. But poverty among LGBT youth after expulsion by parents seems to be a public health problem of its own. The panel noted that rates of family rejection had actually increased in some states after they passed laws accepting gay marriage;  it seems to have increased in rural parts of upstate New York.  There was a suggestion that increase in equality in the law in middle and upper class communities has increased tensions in some lower income communities. 
It would be obvious that the politics and effectiveness of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) could affect the medication of low-income MSM when they are infected, but it’s also apparent that the medications and protease inhibitors have become very effective, with much fewer side effects today than in the past.
In my own social circles, I do not hear or learn of new cases of HIV among men today very often.  But in the 1980s I learned of it all the time; it was like living through a hurricane. 

Update: Nov. 27

The New York Times has a story on a CDC report on the rise of unprotected anal sex among MSM, who often say they select only other men who say they are negative, link here.  The CDC's Morbidity report Nov. 29 is here.  I remember reading a lot of these in print in the 1980s.  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Lowballing the workplace used to be the unwelcome antidote to discrimination; it was about what "you don't do"

Looking back over the years, one of the most significant aspects of anti-gay “discrimination” as I experienced it, in my own unusual path, seems to be that it was predicated more on what I didn’t do than on what I did. 

Many adverse impacts resulted from the fact that I did not or would not perform acts (sexual intercourse with women) normally expected to produce children.  As an only child, I would not provide my parents, married for 45 years, a lineage into the future. 
That means I would, throughout the decades when privacy and being left alone were the issues (as well as public health), long before equality became the buzzword of today, experience some symptoms of second-class status, even though I often didn’t notice them.  Being single meant paying higher car insurance premiums, for example.
But being single also usually meant more discretionary income, and lower expenses, despite higher tax rates (the most obvious penalty for heterosexual “virginity”).  True, I paid real estate taxes to support schools for kids I did not have – but I didn’t object; education was important, and eventually the school systems would become an employer.  I paid health insurance premiums for maternity care I could not use (a preview of today’s debate over aspects of mandatory insurance under Obamacare) but employers paid most of the premium so I didn’t notice it.  Family coverage was much more expensive out-of-pocket that single coverage in most employer group plans.
Where I did notice it toward the end of my career was sometimes doing other people’s work (on salary, without more compensation), especially on call, when they were out for family reasons.  There may be social benefits to mandatory paid maternity and paternity leave (in addition to vacation) as is common in Europe, but that penalizes those who don’t marry and have children – indeed penalizes them for “inaction”.

Then, there was the issue of eldercare.  “Family responsibility” wasn’t always predicated on having children.

So while there is a great deal of attention to equal treatment of same-sex spouses (and of the children of same-sex couples), “equality” really has always owned a much bigger context than that. It’s not a nice feeling to be viewed as someone else’s insurance policy, or to “work for a discount” – although it also means being less likely to be laid off.  Lowballing was the underside of fighting discrimination in the old days. 
One other note: ENDA is said to have passed the Senate with a bigger margin than did the repeal of DADT, with more GOP support.  But the House seems unlikely to move.  Boehner is not known for courage in being willing to break the Hastert Rule (which isn't even legally binding anyway). 

Monday, November 11, 2013

At least six states,. in the south. balk at recogniziing same-sex marriage benefits in their National Guard units

At least six states are resisting pressures to recognize same-sex marriage for benefits for National Guard members, according to a story Monday by Richard A. Oppel, Jr. on p. A12 Monday, November 11, 2013, Veterans Day.  The states are Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia.  National Guard troops can be federalized and deployed (they could even go on relief missions in the Philippines now) but these states insist that Guard units are state agencies, and state laws must be followed.  In Texas, same-sex spouses can go to a federal installation (Ft. Hood) for identification cards.  The link for the story is here

It would appear that in these cases, the couples would have had to get married previously in states that do recognize gay marriage. 

In the early and mid 1990s, Margarethe Cammermeyer was one of the leaders in lifting the military ban and then the DADT policy, and she had been a colonel with the Washington State National Guard.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Steve Grand performs at Town Discotheque in Washington DC

Saturday night, November 9, 2013, the Town Discotheque in Washington DC (at 8th and U Sts NW) presented Steve Grand, 23, whose “All American Boy” video went viral in the summer of 2013 (see the Drama blog, July 20, 2013).  Steve's website is here

Grand performed on a Moze electronic piano and sang downstairs starting at about 11:30 PM, after the drag show, and emphasized mostly 1970s songs.  He then performed on the stage upstairs at about 12:30 AM.  There were some technical difficulties upstairs.

One of the songs was “Stay with me:” I recall a song from around 1973 called “Dancing in the Moonlight”, which has nothing to do with Reid Ewing’s “In the Moonlight (Do Me”) for “Modern Family”. 

Afterwards, we got to meet him in person.

There was also a birthday cake on the downstairs stage.  Was this Steve’s birthday?  Curiously, Nov. 7 was “Reid Rainbow’s” birthday (25, car rental age) according to Wikipedia.  All Scorpio.   
The crowd was as dense as ever, since the event had some publicity.  It built up very quickly.

Because of the expected crowd, I used Metro.  When leaving, around 1:15 AM, I still found it impossible to find a cab in the area, despite DC’s recent change to forcing cabs to mark themselves as “for hire” or “on call”.  

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Hawaii may come full circle on gay marriage; Illinois bill to be signed Nov. 20

Back in the 1990s, the public perception was that the gay marriage “battle” had started in Hawii, where it percolated for a while, after Baehr and Dancel won a ruling from the state supreme court in 1993. Erik Eckholm has a story about the progress in Hawaii, about to reconsider legalization now, on p. A11 of the Saturday New York Times here.
Somehow, a line about “getting married” showed up in the 1965 movie  musical “Hawaii” on Michner’s novel.  Yet, early Hawaiian culture accepted some homosexuality and did not have a well developed institution of marriage.
The Hawaii case is said to have motivated the passage of DOMA in 1996. 
The Illinois gay marriage bill will be signed Nov. 20, Huffington story here

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Extremists in GOP lead to reaction from gay libertarians

The New York Times is reporting this morning that the Republican Party wants to consider relying more on primaries and less on state conventions to pick US Senate and gubernatorial candidates, hoping to find more moderate and electable (and less abrasive) candidates.   The story is by Jeremy Peters and Jonathan Martin, here.  It’s important to the LGBT voter because of the reported anti-gay attitudes of Cuccunelli and particularly the lieutenant governor candidate E. W. Jackson, who compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan and LGBT people to “pedophiles”.
Richard Sincere (from Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) had written a piece about Jackson’s comments claiming that gays and lesbians have an “authorian, totalitarian spirit”, with the story about the article (to appear in a Fredericksburg paper) here.    It sounds as though Jackson thinks that anyone who supports something like universal health care is “authoritarian” or communist.  But the comment could have been motivated by something darker, the notion that “body fascism” seen in the attitude of some men in personal relationships (and an avoidance of complementarity) comports with an idea of wanting to see one’s own idea of virtue everywhere, a curious flip side of cultural fundamentalism.

Sincere’s reply focused on groups like GLIL, Log Cabin, and particularly Pink Pistols. 
Just this week, with Christie’s big win in New Jersey, it seems as if the GOP leadership may indeed go to war with its own ideological extremes.  Cruz could become a footnote.  Will both parties give up the gerrymandering that tends to put ideologically extreme candidates on tickets?  Even the credit rating agencies have talked about this. 

Oh, don’t forget the ENDA vote that may happen in the Senate today.  

Picture: Bizarre sky cloud color at dawn, as if on a Red Dwarf star planet.  

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Family Equality Council announces campaign to encourage same-sex couples to adopt foster children

The Family Equality Council has prepared a YouTube video about same-sex couples who adopt children, called “The Call”. There is also a campaign by “Allies for Adoption” to encourage LGBT couples to adopt foster children, to relieve a foster care crisis. The group says that there are 400,000 children in foster care in the US, among whom 100,000 are eligible for adoption and 23,000 might age out.  The press release (sent to my AOL email) says that same-sex couples who are raising children are four times as likely to have adopted children as heterosexual couples and six times as likely to have foster children.
The group says that only 6 states ban sexual-orientation discrimination in foster care, and only 19 (plus Washington DC) permit same-sex couples to adopt jointly and 13 allow second parents to join as adoptive parents.  

It’s a little hard to find a concrete link for the report on the group’s website, here. It has a flashy campaign to sign up volunteers, and seems to be a survey or petition and then asks for information.  
The picture comes from a Minneapolis bus stop, taken in 2003.   

Monday, November 04, 2013

ENDA clears key cloture vote in Senate

The proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, cleared a cloture vote today (Monday, November 4, 2013) 61-30, clearing the way for almost certain passage later this week.  The Huffington Post has a story and video here.
There are multiple proposed amendments to exclude religious organizations from being covered, including one by Toomey.  This gets to be sensitive in areas where churches are affiliated with large private universities or hospitals viewed as prominent in the community and as employers that should be diverse.
HRC has promoted the bill aggressively, encouraging members to join telephone campaigns. HRC’s account is here.
In my thinking, ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” for the uniformed military in 2011 makes ENDA easier to pass.  I recall seeing ENDA proposed in the spring of 1993.  

Update:  Nov. 7 

Senate will vote around 2 PM Thursday Nov. 7.

WJLA mentions that there is a military exception as well as religious.  Is this correct?  Why would there be a military exemption with DADT repealed?  Others are writing that exemptions don't exist with other laws (like for race -- religions sometimes).  Disparate impact is not supposed to be considered.

The bill passed Thursday 64-32.  

Sunday, November 03, 2013

"Obamacare": Is the individual mandate "fair" to LGBT people?

Here we go again.  Do the minimum requirements for individual policies in Obamacare force some individuals to “sacrifice” to pay for the problems of others?  Isn’t that a sore point and something a lot of us have a bone to pick with? The New York Times weighs in on Sunday morning November 3, 2013 with an editorial (p. 10, Review), on the problems of policies not being renewed after Dec. 31, “Policies not worth keeping: Planes with inadequate coverage will be canceled, but consumers won’t be left out in the cold”, link here.
OK, a relatively young single adult might face some issues.  Suppose I “imagine myself naked” at age 30 or so (much more pleasant than now at 70).  I could, as a gay male, resent paying for a woman’s maternity or pregnancy.  If I were a married man, I would feel it’s in my interest to share coverage. Although I escaped exposure to HIV (apparently), I certainly welcome coverage for it.  I don’t mind paying property taxes that largely go toward supporting public school systems, but after all, I got a public education myself and the school system was my major employer in the previous decade, so paying for someone else’s childbearing expenses might not seem so out of line by comparison.  And it probably doesn’t add much.

What about paying for mental health and substance abuse problems>  I do resent the drug addiction problem coverage.   On the mental health, I had a spate of psychiatric intervention myself as a young adult.  It arguably was the result of other people’s wrongdoing, but that is partly what insurance is for – to pay for harm done to you by others.  Auto insurance, for example, is often like that.

An interesting question arises if I had to pay for even more extended family benefits, which happens in Europe with mandatory paid family leave for parents (most of all in Sweden).  Population demographics and low birth rates in some populations helps explain the practice.  Yet, it’s not seen as that controversial over there.  It’s true that recognition of gay marriage and gay parents makes this more equitable now, and also sends a message that participation in raising the next generation ought to be expected.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

DC gay Halloween parties tamer than was High Heels; Virginia anti-marriage amendment challenged

I haven’t become delinquent in following the news. I know that there was hearing in a federal court in Harrisonburg, VA Wednesday to determine whether a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s Marshall-Newman amendment could be set up as a class action suit for all same-sex couples in Virginia.

On the “heels” of the 17th Street “High Heels Race”, the bars had their formal Halloween parties tonight (the third in a week).  I peaked in on Cobalt, but didn’t stay for the midnight costume contest because of Metro weeknight schedules. 

There was a small guy who had replaced his entire exterior with the painted spots of a cheetah.  It interesting to revere cats so much as to want to become a cat, although cats usually keep more body hair than we do.  That’s all right, a guy on the NBC Today show this morning had chest fur glued on, which will prove as destructive as having tattoos.

The rest of the costumes were less extreme than last weekend at Town.  Some were sports oriented, especially kickball (even more so at JR’s).  Some were collegiate.  You can put on the costume of a GWU graduate student, or medical student. 
Tonight, Jimmy Kimmel is in drag on ABC.  So was Billy Bush today on Access Hollywood.  Curiously, on “Days of our Lives”, Will and Sonny still look and act like men, even on Halloween. 
I wonder what the Abbey in West Hollywood will be like tonight.
Oh, by the way, pumpkins are orange.  I learned that in kindergarten.  It’s still true on the DC Metro.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Washington DC bars sponsor 27th High Heels Race tonight, mid-Halloween

Tonight the community held the 27th annual High Heels Race on 17th St. in Washington DC, between the Cobalt Dc and JR’s. 

For about two hours, the drag queens in costume milled around in the street, which could not even be crossed in the middle.  At 9 PM sharp, the ladies of the night raced down the street to the finish line. The crowd followed, rather like a Spanish procession on an Antnony Bourdain Parts Unknown. 

The restaurants were all packed and could not even be entered.  The only places left to eat were a Submarine shop and a McDonald’s. 

There were plenty of dopplegangers for the Carrie girl, who all looked a bit alike. But the rest of the costumes seemed almost ceremonial, Catholic, Orthodox, something you see on the continent. I was struck by the number of men in the crowd who were as tall as the ladies with just loafers on.

Major media outlets were in evidence, with fully equipped trucks from the local television stations. WJLA reported that the attendance was at least 10,000 to probably 15,000.  

The heels are very high.  The real men still are taller than the gals.