Friday, May 31, 2013

LGBTQ Muslims hold retreat, speak to media; In France, gay mosque opens

The Washington Post Style section on Friday, May 31, 2013 reports on a retreat in Pennsylvania, the LGBTQ Muslim and Partners Retreat, story by Emily Wax, here

One transgendered (Male to Female) person had converted from Baptist to Islam, finding evangelical Christianity more inimical to her than Islam. But generally, Islam has been a very tribal culture, insisting on gender norms (and strict segregation) to preserve its culture.  In Saudi Arabia, it is almost impossible for an unmarried adult woman to travel alone.  

The Washington Post says it was the first media organization to be granted access to the retreat. 

YouTube reports the opening of a gay mosque in France. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Robert McCartney reports in Washington Post Metro on church groups withdrawing from BSA funding

Robert McCartney reports in the Washington Post Metro section Thursday that the Washington area council of the Boy Scouts of America has already lost some donors, and now is trying to emphasize “faith” rather than sexuality.  McCartney comes back and asks why a nationally recognized character-building organization can’t accept atheists.  The link is here
Although the BSA is a private organization, and constitutional libertarians (including Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) agreed with the Supreme Court’s narrow ruling in 2000, that the BSA could do what it wanted, it’s true that in the past it has had tremendous influence on character norms.  When I was in the Army (Vietnam era, stateside), officers were expected to participate in sponsorship.
So what is the BSA’s message?  Beyond honor to duty, God, country?  One of the values is self-reliance, taking care of oneself in practical ways, particularly in emergencies.  “Be prepared.”  As an immediate corollary, be prepared to take care of others in practical ways.  That obviously matters in a world that is unstable because of an increasingly volatile climate and becoming unstable because of bad actors and enemies – although all of these factors have always existed.
So why this fetishal obsession in some quarters with male homosexuality?  Of course, it’s easy to say that a lot of it is religious.  Or, as Bill Maher says, “religulous”.  Then there’s the idea of privacy and close quarters.  The United States military has learned to cope with that (along with “unit cohesion”)  But, here, some say, you’re talking about underage teens, so that’s a difference. 
Overt  exhibition of sexuality is supposed to have no place in scouting activities.  All of this comes down to outward acceptance of an immutable “property” of a personality.
When I was a boy, I was pushed for a while into Cub Scouting, and even into “football”.  It didn’t go very far.  It seemed that society was sending conflicting messages.  Girls were to be respected and sexual explorations were to be avoided.  No problem,  But then it morphed into something else.  Girls were to be protected,  even sacrificially, because they were future mothers.  Boys were to channel some of their energies, at least indirectly, into the reproductive needs of the family and community.  Already there was a logical contradiction at some level.  Sex now was bad but eventual fatherhood was almost mandatory.   Homosexuality made one an enemy of the future of the family.  At an individual level, that hardly made sense.
At least the recent episodes of the soap “Days of our Lives” have presented an interesting view of homosexuality and reproduction. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Exxon-Mobil seems like a holdout in formal recognition of LGBT equality, non-discrimination

The New York Times on Saturday has a major story by James B. Stewart, supplemented by a video online, about the unwillingness of Exxon-Mobil to add explicit protection of gays and lesbians for discrimination in its HR policy.
The link for the story is here.
The story relates that all other major oil companies have implemented such policies. Mobil had done so, but when Exxon bought Mobil, it ended the policy for the acquired employees.
The article reports that Exxon may lose some talent over the issue, and that at least one executive in Europe refused to come to the US without domestic partnership benefits. 
Exxon claims it has a broad-based non-discrimination policy and does not need to name sexual orientation specifically. It does add explicit protections in areas required by local law.
One test case showed a resume from an openly gay applicant was not viewed as favorably as a lesser qualified one, but workplace consultants say that personal issues should not be brought up in job applications.  But there is of course the likelihood of a company’s checking social media, which could result in blanket discrimination.
The report also mentions that a major executive at Exxon has ties to the Boy Scouts of America, which “partially” reversed its ban yesterday.
I have held Exxon stock for years, since 1977, but recently an investment advisor sold it as part of a portfolio restructuring.  The gay issue had nothing to do with the action. I have often referred to Exxon publications on my Issues blog when writing about energy issues. 
In 1983, while living in Dallas, I did have a job issue with Arco, which did not result in an offer. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

In Dallas, Boy Scouts vote to lift ban on gay scouts but keep ban on gay adult leaders

The Boy Scouts of America has voted, in a rank-and-file poll taken at headquarters in Grapevine. TX, to end the ban on open gays as scouts.  It will keep the ban as scout leaders.  The MSNBC story is (website url) here
The BSA also says it will not tolerate conduct with propagates any sexual expression in its activities.
The vote for lifting the ban was apparently about 60%.
Some say that the BSA could lose 10% of its membership and many sponsors, but the BSA has lost many sponsors already because of the ban, especially those affiliated with local governments.

When I was in the Army (1968-19070), field grade officers (at Fort Eustis) and probably even junior officers were expected to participate as leaders.

The policy had been in effect for 103 years. Some reports say that the specific ban on gays by BSA was implemented in 1991 (two years before Clinton introduced "don't ask. don't tell, don't pursue" for gays in the military), on a theory that scouts had to be "morally straight".  Put bluntly, the BSA didn't want to allow influences that could contradict a belief that every boy would grow up to become a father, raise a family, and give his parents (owed) lineage.  
The Mormon Church (Latter Day Saints) sponsors about 25% of troops today but said it would not oppose lifting the ban.

The new policy starts Jan. 1, 2014. 
The BSA says it has no plans for further review of the ban on leaders.  It’s not clear whether there is “asking”.   Some media outlets suggest that the BSA really will revisit the policy on adult leaders in 2014. 

The New York Times had an interesting editorial ("Scouting's Move Toward Equality") Friday, May 25, here. There is an interesting observation that the Scouting policy (at least on adults) says "If you;re gay, keep quiet, because there is something wrong with you."  I know the feeling. It's a quote of a quote.  

Senate blocks same-sex access in immigration bill

Senate Democrats allowed a provision that would grant visa privileges to same-sex couple partners (legally married in other countries) to be removed, to appease Republicans and get a bill passed. Of course, gay activists are outraged.  David Nakamura has a story in the Washington Post Thursday May 23, p. A3, here

The story has a video report. 

The president has warned that it may not be possible to get all progressive ideas passed on this bill.  But why is this so much harder than was lifting DADT?
There is a possibility that if the Supreme Court invalidates DOMA (completely, not just procedurally) in June, that the way for same-sex partner immigration would be opened automatically anyway. 

Picture:  Ballston Common Mall picture of a Chick-fil-A ad for "tailgating", whatever that means.  For the Libertarian Part\y, the word applied to a technique for getting signatures during ballot access petitioning. ABC's "The View" has explained that "chicken" has become a "stereotyping" food because it was the only livestock slaves were allowed to raise before the Civil War.  That sounds like an interesting paradox.   

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Is NYC experiencing a sudden uptick in anti-gay hate crimes?

The New York Times has a disturbing report indicating that hate crimes against gay men have increased in the City in the past year, including a shocking fatal shooting in the West Village of a gay man by another who had recently left prison and who had threatened a bartender some moments before.  The NYT story of the slaying of Mark Carson by Elliot Morales, by Marc Santora and Joseph Goldstein, appears here.  

I lived in NYC at 11tn and Broadway from 1874 through 1978 and never encountered any problems, although I was called the f-word once at 5th Avenue and around 11th St. 

I have made numerous short trips to the city since 2010 and have encountered no problems in either Greenwich Village or the Hells Kitchen area. The atmosphere seems more tense in Washington DC than in New York.  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

VA governor pushes for families to adopt, remains mum on same-sex couples as parents

Virginia law, passed in February 2012, allows private adoption agencies to refuse same-sex couples or gay people to adopt children based on private or religious beliefs, according to a Washington Blade story in February, 2012, here. 
But on Friday, Equality Virginia pointed out the apparent hypocrisy in Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s “Campaign for 1000” to find a thousand more families to adopt children in the Commonwealth.
One out of four foster children not adopted will be incarcerated within two years of turning 18, and 50% will become homeless. 
“Lets Get Real” has a story on the adoption push here.
Will we have (again) a world where there is a presumed  from everyone a capability to raise and adopt children/

Friday, May 17, 2013

President Obama should issue XO prohibiting contractor discrmination; setting an example for the rest of the world

Could an executive order from the President forbidding any federal contractor discrimination based on sexual orientation pave the way, in practical terms, to Congress’s being willing to pass ENDA (the Employment N on-Discrimination Act), introduced in 1993.
So suggests Jeffrey Marburg-Goodman on p. A17 of the Friday Washington Post.  The title in print is “Signing on to employment equality”.  Online, it’s more specific: “An executive order could end LGBT discrimination in contracts”, link here
Wouldn’t the official repeal of the military “don’t ask don’t tell” in 2011 put practical pressure on the system to end civilian employment discrimination?  We’ve covered he history of security clearances (especially my own) here before.  (The CIA has been OK with openly gay enployees since the early 1990s -- as long as it's "open".)   In practice, in commercial settings with mainframe information technology , I never experienced any real discrimination after 1974.  As an individual contributor, management was most concerned with whether one did his job,  Even in “conservative” Dallas in the1980s working for a credit reporting company during the height of the AIDS epidemic publicity, I encountered no problems.  I  had no direct problems as a  civilian employee working for USLICO, a life insurance company that catered to military officers in the 1990s.  (I wonder how USAA was then.)  Private industry, in my experience, tended to embrace diversity, particularly in Minneapolis after USLICO was bought by NWNL which became ReliaStar, and then ING.  ReliaStar had public diversity meetings within the company.
There have existed libertarian philosophical arguments against anti-discrimination ordinances, some of them publicized by GLIL (Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) in the 1990s, in the newsletter “The Quill” and in press releases (especially an unfortunate one that I recall in 1996).  For example, Hooter’s might be jealous of its aggressively heterosexual image.  On the other hand, it’s common these days to find heterosexuals (men and women) bartending in gay establishments. 
Wouldn’t the lifting of the military ban put a lot of psychological pressure on the Boy Scouts?  Maybe it has, but there are residual problems, to be sure.  In the 1980s, the BSA actually employed mainframe programmer-analysts and showed up at jobs fairs in Dallas.  I didn’t bite.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Gay Anthropology, Part II: Lookism is a karma problem

I just wanted to carry on some thoughts coming behind my “anthropology” exercise yesterday.

That is to note that I did not have the opportunity to be “desired” in social situations where lookism drives the action – drives and discos.  I did not visit a gay bar for the first time until March, 1973, at age 29.  I remember walking around the block housing Uncle Charley’s South in NYC twice before having the nerve to go in and enjoy the “goody line” (the free Sunday afternoon buffet).  I was already balding and less than “perfect”.  So I never enjoyed being in the position to command the attention from others with personal charisma and attractiveness from others. 
I did, of course, learn the whole body of material about personal growth and the “polarities” as was taught by Paul Rosenfels at the Ninth Street Center in the East Village in New York in the 1970s (now, it is, posthumously, the Paul Rosenfeils Community.
In this line of thinking, selectivity and independence were considered good.  And they are. If you can do your own thing – today with the help of the Internet – you are more likely to attract the people you want.  That can present a “chicken and egg” problem, as I noted on my main blog Tuesday (May 14). 
But “doing your own thing” first requires stability – and externally caused difficulties (natural or hostile) can throw you into interdependence on others in unwelcome ways.  Not everyone has the opportunity to achieve things on their own, less be naturally appealing in public venues.  So we seem to wind down to a profound social justice problem.
I haven’t been to clubs as much as usual in 2013, for a variety of reasons – including increasing content workload.  People do approach me in bars.  Maybe a little over half of the approaches are “unwelcome” (but some are).  I realize there is a bit of an attitude about this.
Once, back in  October 2001 (shortly after 9/11, when people were a little nervous), in a popular Minneapolis bar, an African American woman approached me asking when my birthday was an which birthday it would be.  She was protecting someone else from unwanted interest.  You can imagine how that felt.  

By the way, not being too “popular” in young adulthood may have saved my life.  I’m still around.  The HIV epidemic, as playwright Larry Kramer (“The Normal Heart”) once said, enforced a kind of reverse Darwinism.   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Gay character Will Horton on "Days" shows how homosexuality can actually improve a "tribe's" Darwinian advantage: Anthropology 101

It strikes me that the “Will and Sonny” subplot in “Days of our Lives” says something about “nature” and male homosexuality that, in the grand scheme of things, makes sense to an alien anthropologist.
Will Horton, supposedly about 19 (Chandler Massey) is turning out to be the alpha male, almost like one in a lion pride.  He had a quick fling with ex-girl friend Gabi anyway, resulting in her pregnancy, after “ex-con” Nick Fallon (character whom the show has ruined, played by Blake Berris) fell in love with her and announced marriage.  It got complicated, but Will also won back the loyalty of his boyfriend Sonny (Freddie Smith), one of the few “sane” or “steady” characters in the show. 
So here Will spreads his own genes, to be around a few billion years from now when mankind has to move to Mars, Europa, or Titan  because the Sun becomes a Red Giant. And he can enlist two other men besides himself (Sonny and Nick) to help support his daughter and give his own “genes” a competitive advantage in the millennia to follow him.  The daughter could have three daddies (although Nickie may well be headed back to jail, given his behavior).  What a beautiful strategy for giving your own progeny a competitive advantage.  Get another man to feel attracted to you and help you raise your kids, when he won’t have his own.   

Will has shown the ability to dominate others before, such as when he went head-to-head and tried to blackmail EJ.  Will also might become a chess master.  (He needs to play better against the Dragon Sicilian, and maybe the Sveshnikov.)  

The bisexual character Nolan Ross in ABC's "Revenge" also offers interesting perspectives on how nature really works. And I guess "Modern Family" gives us some lessons about hidden nature, if we think about it. 
Think about it,  Most social mammals have “alpha males” and in many species, not all males reproduce.  Lions, wolves, and some primates prefer that only a few "fit" males reproduce and carry genes forward.  The idea of “alpha male” even crosses species.  (In “The Life of Pi”, a teenage boy convinces a tiger to obey him because the tiger figures out he has a better chance of surviving and reproducing himself if he takes orders from the boy when they are at sea.)  The boy can make tools and catch fish to feed them both; the big cat cannot. 
Nobody can say this is idea for morality, politics, or sociology.  But it is certainly natural and happens all the time in the animal world.  In human society, left unchecked, it could encourage authoritarianism eventually. 
We all know that when we feel “attracted” to someone and that attraction is ratified, it seems like an existential matter, of real importance.  The moral problem comes from the need to make a relationship permanent, at least long enough for children to be raised, and now, for parents to be taken care of.  It can be a challenge to retain that passion, not only as the partners age, but when misfortune befalls one of them.  

Angelina Jolie’s recent decision illustrates that point in the heterosexual world.  It’s more likely to be an issue today than it was a half century ago because people live longer and medicine can catch problems and prevent death in people who have the emotional support to accept invasive procedures and changes to their looks.  I had a little preview of this back in 1978 myself.   

The "equality" debate used to be not so much about same-sex couples, as it was the tension between the "unmarried" and "childless" (higher taxes, often, but more disposable income) and "families with children" (without the marriage penalty).  That was the spin in the 90s.  Should the childless set themselves aside to raise OPC, other people's children?  It often happens in families after tragedies (the "Raising Helen" problem of raising a sibling's children -- also in the ABC TV series "Summerland").  But it can also happen within same-sex couples.  

Sunday, May 12, 2013

North Carolina "Baptist" pastor sounds like a match for Phelps and Westboro in Kansas

Anderson Cooper has a brief report on the anti-gay rants of a certain Charles Worley at the Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, NC, about 50 miles north of Charlotte, oddly a town where Apple has a major data center. 
Cooper interviews a member of the church about the curious anti-logic of Worley’s prescriptions, and gets nowhere with logic.  The link is here.   I won’t embed this one.  Cooper has said before that he doesn't like to run stories on anti-gay religious extremists, because it gives them the attention they crave. But he did it this time.  
Bur the Christian Post ran a story in which Worley “justified” his rants, that are on the level of Fred Phelps of Westboro, and even Paul Cameron back in the 1980s. All of this is pretty graphic.  It does remind one of the “quarantine” talk of the 1980s, and worse. 


Here's the church, here's the people, open your hand, here's the steeple.

Note the sign: "Working for God isn't a part time job".  There are a lot of small fundamentalist church in the area, and many of the homeowners around Maiden appear to be poor. The church is about four miles east of town. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Minnesota House approves gay marriage; likely to pass Senate Monday; recalling my own time in Minnesota 1997-2003

The Minnesota House of Representatives in St. Paul has approved gay marriage by a vote of 75-59.
The bill is likely to pass the Minnesota Senate Monday and be signed into law by Democratic (DFL?) governor Mark Dayton.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune has a detailed story here
It was not immediately apparent when marriages could occur.
Last November, Minnesota voters turned down a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
This year’s gay pride celebration in Loring Park would certainly be one of the largest ever. In terms of surface area covered, the Twin Cities Pride celebration is one of the largest in the country, as just about every major corporation or non-profit has a booth.  It usually occurs the last weekend of June, with website here.  In 2002, the Saturday booths endured temperatures of 102F. 
I lived in Minneapolis from 1997-2003 and became quite familiar with the community, and with Pride Alive of the Minnesota AIDS Project.
I’m also somewhat familiar with the State Capitol complex in St. Paul.  The Libertarian Party sponsored numerous anti-tax rallies on the steps there.  And in 1998, when I was injured in a freak accident in a convenience store in downtown Minneapolis, my own attorney happened to be a state representative, so I visited the Capitol at least once.
I also remember the night that Gov. Jesse Ventura was elected as an independent in 1998.  I also met Ventura in person at the HRC dinner in the Minneapolis convention center just two weeks after 9/11 in 2001.  I remember all those days well.   

Update: May 13

The Minnesota Senate passed the bill approving gay marriage today. 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

New York State agency helps provide care of elder LGBT people; two documentary films on LGBT elders appear

LGBT elderly people in some parts of New York State have a new resource, HCR Home Care, which has been set up in conjunction with the Gay Alliance of the Genessee Valley, as related in this Washington Blade story May 1, here

The local Gannett "Democrat and Chronicle" has a story (paywall) (website url) here

LGBT eldercare is slowly gaining attention in the media. On my movies blog, on Sept. 24, the Arlington Agency for Aging (VA) screened the documentary film “Gen Silent” (by Stu Maddox), which is reviewed on my Movies blog at that date.

And the Maryland Film Festival in Baltimore will screen “Before You Know It” by P. J. Raval, about three aging gay men in different towns.  This wasn’t convenient right now, but I put it in my Netflix Save queue. I don’t yet know whether material in these two films overlaps. The film showed at SXSW.  I don’t see a DVD purchase site yet, but I hope it shows up soon for home viewing (possibly with Logo?) 

LGBT people are likely to wind up caring for parents or other relatives; older LGBT may lack the experience having raised families of their own when they are “forced” into this filial duty,  

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

The Blue Hen State approves gay marriage

Delaware, “The Blue Hen State”, has become the eleventh (not “eleventieth”) state to recognize same-sex marriage.  The state Senate passed the relevant bill 12-9 (by one “field goal”) and the governor Jack Markell signed it into law immediately.  (Check the 1950 World Book Encyclopedia on how the state got this name during the Revolutionary War.) 
USA Today has a typical story here. It also offers a national map diagram the status of same-sex marriage today. 

People will be able to enter into same-sex marriages on July 1.
Delaware is sort of a bizarre state, with no sales tax, but very high tolls on I-95 through it, to get revenue from passers.  The town of Rehoboth Beach attracts a gay crowd from DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, but has had controversies over noise.  South of Rehoboth you have Bethany Beach, which used to be a religious retreat.  My first trip to the beach with my parents happened in 1947 to Bethany when I was about to turn 4.  That’s one of my earliest memories. 
Summer rentals in the beach towns are now outrageously expensive, but a surprising number of older people – especially realtors and people who own franchise businesses, live in Rehoboth year round, and tolerate the hurricane risk.  Rehoboth did not have extensive damage from Sandy the way communities on the Jersey shore did.   I’ve only spent a weekend there once, in 1997, when I had to go all the way to Dover to get a room.  (Routes 9 and 1 traffic is always horrible, because of the outlet malls without sales tax.)  I usually make day trips most summers. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Chile lifts gay blood donation ban; can the US?

The Washington Blade is reporting that Chile has dropped its gay male blood donation ban – not asking sexual orientation, but banning only for risky behaviors within some recent period (twelve monhts).  High risk behaviors are regarded the same regardless of gender of the partner. 
The Blade has its story here.

The story has a curious public domain photo that looks more like a conventional IV line (or possibly for platelet donation) than a conventional blood donation. 

The original story in the Santiago Tunes (English version) is by Elizabeth Trovall, link here
I can remember in the early 1980s, before AIDS was none, that  (in Dallas) banks included “be a superdonor” pitches in their statements, which included platelet donation and even bone marrow donation, which was just starting to become “popular” then.
I think that I last gave blood in 1981. 

The history of Chile, by the way, was the subject of the recent film "No".  

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Maryland tells state employees in domestic partnerships that they must get married to keep spousal benefits

The state of Maryland has told its state employees in domestic partnerships that aren’t marriages, get married by the end of the year, or lose partnership benefits.  This is seen as an “unintended consequence” of successfully passing gay marriage last November (I had covered the governor’s signing ceremony March 1, 2012; later opponents forced a referendum, but voters, in an encouraging turn of direct democracy, approved gay marriage).
Station WJLA (ABC affiliate for Washington DC)  reports the story (by Steve Chenevey) here.

It is said to be a “budgetary rule”, reducing the likelihood of successful legal challenges from any unmarried couple now, because everyone is treated equally.
I have not heard of any other state, having authorized gay marriage, that has made a similar announcement yet.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Transgendered same-sex couple and son appear on NBC Today show

The NBC Today show on Friday offered an interview with trangender author Jennifer Fiiney Boylan and her wife, and her college age son, raised by effectively a same-sex female couple. 
The son said he never experienced any difficulties from other kids over his family circumstances. 
I actually know of one case of a male raised by a female couple who got into the Naval Academy. 
Jennfier spoke out about disclosing his transgendered status to his spouse when he was a man. It is remarkable for a marriage (as an intimate relationship) survive this. 
The link for the video on Today is here. Oddly, the video kept hanging trying to play the ads. 
Her book is “Stuck in the Niddle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders”, published by Crown. 

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Rhode Island passes marriage equality

Human Rights Campaign is reporting that Rhode Island governor has signed into law a new marriage equality law, making Rhode Island the tenth state (in addition to the District of Columbia) to offer full marriage equality. The HRC story is here

I know the state from a 2003 visit to the now late Gode Davis, filmmaker trying to produce “American Lynching”, a project that is still incomplete. 

I understand that all six New England states offer marriage equality.  It makes the Boston Red Sox look good. 
Wikipedia attribution link for downtown Providence.