Friday, August 30, 2013

IRS recognizes same-sex marriage regardless of where couple lives now; maybe gays will lobby against marriage penalty now

The media have widely reported that the IRS will fully recognize same-sex marriages, as long as the marriages were legal in the place of celebration, regardless of the state where the couple lives. That also means that a “marriage penalty” couple sometimes applies, which more often affects couples whose incomes are comparably equal – perhaps more common with young same-sex couples than whole heterosexual world. Look at the Wiki link here
Annie Lowrey has a typical story for the New York Times here
The Social Security Administration is still reported as using a “place of residence” standard for survivor benefits, unless it gets further instructions from Congress or the courts. The VA is not yet recognizing same-sex marriage at all, as recently reported.  
Update: later Friday, federal judge Consuelo Marshall in Los Angeles ruled that the Supreme Court DOMA ruling in June 2013 does apply to VA benefits, NBC news story here.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nats Gay DayOUT 3 -- that is, the NAGAAA SoftBall World Series today (some games near Fairfax, VA)

I did make it to Braddock Park (directions) to see a little bit of the NAGAAA World Series.
The teams that seemed to be around included Minneapolis (the Titans), Boston (the Pink Sox), and I think Atlanta (the Southern). 

I bought a jersey, and no, it wasn’t free; in fact, it cost $28.

Someone from Minneapolis updated me on the scene.  The owners of the Gay 90’s apparently bought the Brass Rail and made it a “Martini Bar”.  But the Saloon seems to be the favored dance spot, still, with one of the best floor views in the country.  The Saloon now has a restaurant where there used to be an outdoor patio, which doesn’t work for seven months of the year.

I watched “Boston at Atlanta” (interleague play, maybe) and Boston scored six runs in the top of the first in the slow pitch game.  There were lots of short line drive base hits and grounders.   Only one long ball was hit, an opposite field “gapper” between the left and center fielders for a triple, from a left-handed hitter who was small and nimble.  

Does slow-pitch softball have the infield fly rule?  In one game, a runner was forced at second after a short fly landed in right center, which should have been a single.  Remember the “infield fly game” in the MLB playoffs last year (St. Louis at Atlanta).
It appears that the championship rounds will be played Saturday Aug 31 at the Watkins softball fields in Upper Marlboro, MD (Prince George's County, East of the Beltway, south of Rt 50).  

By the way, driving home, apparently I drove near a major police incident in Fairfax County late Thursday, according to station WJLA. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

VA says DOMA ruling alone not enough for it to process same-sex partner benefits now

The Washington Blade is reporting about a letter sent by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, dated Aug. 14, 2013, advising the Senate (and voting public) that the VA believes it is still bound by Title 38, United States Code which (over and above the now invalidated sections of DOMA) specifies that various survivorship benefits are allowed only for opposite-gendered spouses, specifically.
The Blade story, including a link to a PDF of the letter, is here

The letter says that Congress should act in order to guarantee that same-sex spouses get full benefits, since it has not been told by a court that Section 38’s provision is unconstitutional.  However, there are several cases in litigation which the administration will not defend.

Should the VA issue have been combined with DOMA with the original suit? 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

"Free Fish" giveaway at "Gay NightOut at the Nationals II" as (baseball) Nationals beat the Miami Marlins (fish)

Tonight, I tried the Gay NightOUT at the Nationals II, with the event coordinated with the DC Series 2013, gay softball (link) . 
The special seats were sold out, so I bought a regular ticket.  But it was still OK to walk up to the picnic area to the left of the restaurant, and up an escalator, leading to the right field outfield seats. 

The Washington Nationals won a cliffhanger from the Miami Marlins, 2-1, a pitcher’s duel.  I thought, it would have been fun for the Nats to rub it in by playing the seven minute short film “Free Fish” by “Reid Rainbow” on the stadium video in the pregame.  The Marlins are often called “the fish” and they are in last place in the NL East.  I wonder what is involved in a team’s getting a (copyright) license to play commercial video or music in a pregame, probably the same as a disco’s.  There could be irony in this because the filmmaker himself grew up in south Florida before going to NY and LA.  By the way, the football team is Miami Dolphins (perfect record in 1972), and dolphins are not “fish”. They are mammals, cetaceans, second (if you include orcas) to humans in intelligence with their own biological Internet (sonar),  Marlins, however, are true "fish". 
I actually had a close in box seat ($80) near the “Fish” dugout.  A line drive foul flair off the bat of Bryce Harper barely missed me, over my head.  MLB always gives me the same seat.  The cookie remembers me too well. It’s called tracking.

The LGBT party was well over 500 feet from home plate, a safe distance even from Harper.

I’ll try to find the venues for the games Wed-Fri.  There is a closing night party Saturday at Town DC.
In Dallas, I actually played a little softball with the gay bar league in 1984 (on JR’s team).  I didn’t get to play a lot, but went 1 for 3 in one game.  I seem to remember we won a championship game 13-9 on the road, with each team getting 4 runs in the ninth.
I also recall there was a women’s game that year that went 15 innings and only ended when the visiting team scratched a run in the top of the 16th (4-3).
The team from Houston had a slow pitch ace who was absolutely unhittable and gave up at most one or two runs a game.  Well-pitched slow pitch with a high arc can be difficult to hit. 

There's been a lot of attention this year to the idea of major league sports accepting openly gay players, particularly following the military DADT repeal in 2011.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Activists quickly protest Bradley Manning's 35-year sentence; Obama administration might consider a pardon; many in Army seem somewhat sympathetic

WJLA is reporting Wednesday night of a spontaneous demonstration today supporting Bradley Manning after he received a 35-year sentence.

Right now, the most recent footage, though, at WJLA is a July 30 march from Dupont Circle to the White House.

Legal observers say that Manning could be out on parole in about ten years, based on time served.
The Obama administration says it will consider a request for a pardon in a manner commensurate with other requests.

And Assange reportedly has never said that any of the materials on Wikileaks, including the famous 40-minute “Collateral Murder” video (friendly fire deaths in Iraq) came from Manning.
Manning supporters say that the unusually harsh confinement of Manning before trial should justify a pardon.

Defense lawyers actually said that Manning’s struggling with gender identity issues and having to deal with the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy before its 2011 repeal, should be taken into consideration in assessing his conduct.

Others have said that the Army should have known that Manning’s instability should have led the Army not to give him a highly compartmentalized security clearance.

But I come from a history where homosexuality alone was a reason for denial of high clearances. As I learned at Pride this year, the CIA would dismiss gay employees until 1996. 

Update: Aug. 22

CNN is reporting that Bradley Manning will seek gender reassignment, and there is already legal controversy as to whether the Army is required to provide it as medical treatment in prison. She will call herself "Chelsea Manning". 

Monday, August 19, 2013

NJ Governor Christie signs law banning ex-gay conversions; Russians weigh in on anti-gay-speech law, often sound silly

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey (R), has signed into law a bill making New Jersey the second state (after California) to ban therapists from trying “conversion therapy” or “reparative therapy”.
Christie said that government must tread lightly in this area, but the felt that the practice was dangerous to minors.   He also said that, despite his Catholic faith, he disagrees with the Catholic Church on homosexuality, which he does not see as a sin and sees as immutable.
The ABC story  (from Angele Della Santi and the Associated Press) is (website url) here

Christie has not been supportive on full marriage equality however. 

On the matter of the Russian ban against displaying or speaking of “nontraditional” sexual behavior in front of minors, CNN aired some interviews of random people in Moscow.  Some opposed the law, but one female actually supported the law because it would lead to more happy families with more babies.  Yes, some people really think that way.
CNN ran a story about a bizarre interview given by Yelena Isinbayeva (she uses the word “boys” instead of “men” as if supporting underage heterosexuality, but she says she doesn’t know English), here.  The “reasoning” about the Russinas being “normal” when other peoples are not makes no sense.  (Somehow, I recall our singing Jean Sibelius’s “Onward Ye People’s” back in middle school chorus in the 1950’s.)
A small fundamentalist church in Alaska is reported to have thrown out the Boy Scouts after the BSA partially lifted its ban on gays.  The pastor has already decided for all time who will enter the Kingdom of God.   

Update: February 6, 2016

In New York State, Gov. Cuomo has signed an order banning conversion therapy for minors, CNN story

Sunday, August 18, 2013

More details on "state of celebration" vs. "state of residence" question in post-DOMA federal benefits

Christ Johnson has a major update on information on the "state of celebration" vs "state of residence" issue in the post-DOMA world in four areas:  (1) Social Security (2) Federal income taxes (3) Veterans benefits (and some military benefits) (4) Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  (It can also be called "place of celebration" and "place of residence".)
The link for the Aug. 13 story appears here in the Washington Blade.

It appears that right now Social Security is requiring that the couple have resided in a state that recognizes their marriage if one passes.  However Social Security encourages applications based on place of celebration and places them on "hold" for future administrative law resolution.

The IRS similarly believes that the law requires that it consider "place of residence" for eligibility for joint returns, but says it is still looking at the legal details more closely with DOJ and could make a policy change.

The VA says that the law still only spelled out partnership benefits for opposite-sex partners but awaits the post-DOMA litigation, McLaughlin v. Hagel.

The FMLA leave application seems open, but many employers will honro same-sex marriage claims anyway.  The problem is that FMLA provides only unpaid leave, and does not help a lot of couples much in practice.  It is available to take care of parents in a filial responsibility setting.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Jersey's "civil unions" remain complicated; I almost "get it"

New Jersey’s situation with respect to same-sex marriage remains complicated, as a New Jersey judge Mary Jacobson indicated she would not rule until September on whether same-sex couples in civil unions in the state should get federal benefits.  The UK Guardian has a recent story here

It’s a little hard to see why a state judge would have the power to make decisions about federal benefits, even given the DOMA ruling.

Gov. Chris Christie had vetoed a bill authorizing full marriage rights in NJ in 2012.

As for me, last night, at the Cobalt in Washington I did get some attention, welcome but unusual. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bradley Manning apologizes in sentencing hearing, but "gender identity" issues confuse the session

Bradley Manning apologized today as he spoke to the military court before sentencing.  He said he knows his leaking of classified information sometimes hurt people, including legitimate intelligence informants, even though he intended to expose the Army’s hurting people.

But Manning’s “gender identity” issues took up a lot of attention at his sentencing today.  There seems to be a confusing idea that his gender problems affected his judgment. 

The latest CNN report on the hearing, including important video (unfortunately not embeddable), is here
It may seem fortunate, as a matter of history, that the Manning matter did not receive as much attention in 2010 when the law repealing DADT was negotiated.
However, few gay men in the military have gender identity issues, which can be “linearly independent” of sexual orientation.  All transgendered people would be heterosexual within one of the two genders they express.   Most were heterosexual in their original gender.  In 1993, Scott Peck, on his talk show, interviewed a transgendered woman (after surgery) who had left the Navy after fifteen (heterosexual) years in intelligence, and who had taken a similar civilian job.  On the other hand, there are numerous gay men, including some in entertainment today,  who say they could have played professional sports (baseball and even football) had the environment been more hospitable.

Manning would have looked about like the Washington Senators’s Albie Pearson in the 1950’s, who at least drew a lot of walks.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Russian parliament member invokes a "self-sacrificial" idea of morality when talking about gays and lesbians; protests will happen at Sochi

A lawmaker in Russia, reacting to the controversy over whether Russia would enforce its “anti-propaganda” law relating to homosexuality at the 2014 Winter Olympics, said that gays should be bannd from donating blood and organs  That sounds bizarre since a blood (and organ) donation ban on MSM has been in effect in the US since 1983 or so, and the US is finally considering ending it.
What followed was more disturbing. The Russian parliament member said that when they die, gays should be buried with dishonor, because they cannot come to the aid of other people with their own bodies.

That sounds like a bizarre, totalitarian view of morality (that a person owes his life to society on demand), but that is what we believed in the days that we had a military draft, during the Vietnam war. 

This was reported early this evening on Anderson Cooper’s AC360 show on CNN.
Greg Louganis was interviewed, and he said that in 1988, few people on the Olympic team would room with him.

Another speaker said that there will be massive protests in Russia against the law, forcing the Russian government’s hand, making it ugly.  Russia does not respond well to pressure. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

GLIL gathers in DC on Sunday afternoon; VA marriage ban under fire; Catholic schools impose DADT on teachers; HHS lobbied on blood donation ban; more on Putin

This isolated summer weekend in Washington (it always seems to be August) became a potpourri.
Sunday afternoon, some people from GLIL (Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) gathered at the D.I.K. bar (formerly called Windows), on 17th St.  In the 1990’s I had edited its newsletter, the Quill, for two years, and then it met the first Tuesday of every month, usually at Trumpets, a downstairs bar and restaurant from the past. 

After I moved to Minneapolis (shortly after publishing my first book), I became involved with the Libertarian Party of Minnesota, which became quite active (with ballot access petitioning drives) for a while, until 9/11.  At an HRC dinner at the Minneapolis Convention Center shortly after 9/11, I met the reform “libertarianesque” governor Jesse Ventura in person.  I think he knows my story.  He’s appeared various times since then spouting conspiracy theories.

In the meantime, GLIL seemed to become less active.  But it has become challenging to remain libertarian in the post 9/11 world where liberty has to be viewed in tandem with real threats.
GLIL’s site is here. I have the impression that with GLIL, as many groups, it’s harder to maintain websites than it is for individuals to do their own.

I did talk about the recent threat to Section 230 (affecting Internet freedom of speech) today (I’ve covered it on my main blog.)

Last night, I tried a late summer Saturday night at Town DC.  The drag show was a little longer than usual, and the crowd slower at first, but suddenly around 12:30 PM the crowd was a packed as ever, and became much more “intimate”.

I like to hear 80’s and 90’s music in bars more than it is played.  I do hear some stuff that is in the Sirius XM “The Blend” in my car.   I’ve wondered how bars pay licenses to use music, either on the dance floor or in karaoke, if there are clearing houses to take care of the legal formalities, permissions, and royalty payment allocations to artists.  There’s more music that doesn’t get played that I think should. Just notice my comments on other blogs (particularly movies and “plays/music”).  There is music (and video) from “Modern Family” that would be a blast for the crowds, but I have yet to hear it in a bar.  I just don’t know what the situation would be to license it.  Back in 2001, it was common to hear ‘Nsync in bars (at least in the Saloon in Minneapolis.)

There is some political news.  There is talk of a lawsuit to overcome Virginia’s Marshall-Newman amendment prohibiting any legal recognition of same sex relationships in the commonwealt. (Yes, I remember GLIL’s position on marriage as a “private contract” and the 1996 piece “License Expired”.)

A teacher at a Catholic school in the LA area in California was fired after pictures of his same-sex marriage wedding were published in a “Valley” newspaper.  The Church sounds like “Russia”, or like the military under DADT.

And there are opinions expressed that Putin’s motives in Russia are more to identify as many enemies of Russian “nationalism” (like LGBT people, who don’t reproduce as much) as possible, to gather his authoritarian hold on power.  He is gay-baiting the way Hitler did with Jews in the 1930’s.

There is also a letter from some Senators to HHS’s secretary Sibelius encouraging the end of the male gay blood donation ban.

Oh, I played chess Friday night, at the Arlington Chess Club.  I lost with White, which is like losing at home in baseball,  I played about the way the Nationals played against the Braves when I went to the game earlier last week. 

Friday, August 09, 2013

Russia seems to backtrack, might enforce anti-gay "propaganda law" at Winter Olympics

The Washington Post has weighed in with an editorial Friday Aug. 9, 2013, “Russia’s War on Gays”, link here.  Despite some conciliatory statements about being “politically correct” from the Russian government last week about the Olympics, now the latest is that Russia’s “sports minister” backtracked and said that all Olympic athletes and visitors would indeed be subject to Russia’s “propaganda law”.
The very fact that it is called such recalls what we learned about “propaganda” in civics class back in the 1960s.  The concept gives ordinary people no credit for being able to do their own thinking.
I’ve written that the Russian law seems related to low birthrate problems, which is ironic when one considers the controversy in China over its one-child policy unraveling.  But the Post (and Blade) see it as simple convenient scapegoating.

There is something to take note here.  Authoritarian systems see “morality” in terms of getting every person to comply with common goals, and see dissidents as “weak links” in the common good.  But in the 1950’s America, we saw a lot of that kind of thinking ourselves.  I grew up with it.  Sustainability concerns can bring that kind of thinking back here, too.  

Update: Later Friday

President Obama, in a news conference, mentioned the anti-gay law after discussing his canceling a meeting with Putin, primarily over the Snowden affair.  But he said the best thing would be for some LGBT athletes to win medals.  If Russia didn't send any LGBT athletes, it could be at a competitive disadvantage in the Olympics.

Of course, the old Soviet Union pampered athletes, and probably gave them PED's, to prove the "superiority" of communism.

At the same time, the ability of major league sports players to "come out" in the US is starting to get press attention.  Undoubtedly, there are people capable of playing MLB or NFL who didn't try to enter because of past unofficial "bans".   It would seem that maybe the Los Angeles Dodgers should sponsor a home run hitting contest for celebrities, and see how many LGBT personalities show up and perform in it.  Imagine... 

Thursday, August 08, 2013

DOD makes measured progress in same-sex partner military benefits

The US military may start providing military same-sex couples benefits (or spouses of same-sex military partners) if they were legally married in one state according to that state’s laws, according to the most recent press reports, such as in an AP story by Lolita C. Baldor, printed in the Houston Chronicle here

Same-sex couples who are not married in such a state may be given leave to travel to such a state, according to reports.  It is not completely clear whether one of the partners must reside in such a state or whether the military person must have resided before enlisting.

Although Outserve and SLDN have pushed hard on marriage benefits since the 2011 repeal of DADT, this does represent considerable progress.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently spoke (July 31) about it at a news conference at the Pentagon.  

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Arlington, Fairfax groups hold events in northern VA Friday night; Marriage in RI, MN; Putin plays "political correctness"

I attended another Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance Friday evening, held at Kora’s, in the Crystal City section of south Arlington, near Reagan National Airport.  I was quite late because of a mishap.  A cell phone, put down in your car (even a larger smartphone), can shift from motion into an invisible place.  It took me an hour to find it. Lesson learned!

Then there was a small party in Fairfax, Virginia held by Fairfax County Pride (apparently it held its main event in late June), upstairs in a club called “Fire Station 3” on University Drive (one block off 123), and near the GMU (libertarian oriented politically) campus.

I got to see how DJ’s work.  One DJ was working the mp3 mix on a laptop (I think it was Windows 7, not a Mac), whereas the other (familiar perhaps) was preparing to spin vinyl. 

At the other end of the room, the Nationals were actually winning a baseball game on TV, with Harper homering as I walked into the bar; the game had been delayed by a pitcher’s injury. 

Earlier in the day, we learned that same-sex marriages could start immediately in both Minnesota (which had defeated a constitutional ban in November, to the dismay of Michele Bachman) and Rhode Island.

Russia announced it would be “politically correct” (an odd term to come from Putin) and not enforce its anti-gay “propaganda” law, discussed here Aug. 1.  But on CNN, a debate was continuing among gay athletes.  Some said that merely going and participating made a statement.  But at least one coach, an older man from the University of Michigan and speaking near the Key Bridge in Washington, told CNN that athletes who went and stayed in the closet while there could hurt the Russian LGBT community.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Are anti-gay measures overseas (Russia, Uganda) motivated by a fear of "intentional childlessness"?

On a day that Time Magazine made the “childless life” a cover story, the rhetoric in Russia about prohibiting gay speech has ramped up, and apparently Olympic athletes have been warned about the issue now, according to an ABC World News story tonight. 
Anti-gay harassment is much more common now in Russia than in western countries, and probably than it was before the law was passed.

The Russian law (specifically banning portrayal of "nontraditional sexual relationships" where minors can see them) appears particularly to apply to speaking about homosexuality in the presence of minors or children.  Would having a public pro-gay website make the law apply if a minor could find it?  (We had that kind of question in a different emphasis with COPA and previouly the CDA a few years ago.)  If so, would it not apply if Russia simply blocked the site?  This idea would be troubling to any writer or journalist covering gay issues planning to visit Russia (including possibly the athletes and staff).  
And it really seems that a major motivation for this draconian law is the low birth rate.  Russians seem to believe that if teenagers or children, especially young men, hear homosexuality discussed openly in terms of lifestyle, many will become less interested in having children.  This may include many “straight” men and women who decide the responsibility and cost is too much – although Russian (and generally, European) benefits for parents are much stronger than in the U.S.
To anyone living in a western country with so much progress on gay marriage, gays as parents, and gays in the military (although maybe not in scouting organizations or in stopping some bullying), such tactics sound like those of an authoritarian state.  And they are.  Many societies (throughout history) believe that people are born into the world with intrinsic obligations to society, some of which depend on gender.  In this line of thinking, procreation is a responsibility and it is intrinsically tempting to many people to avoid it.
What can bring this back into some kind of balance in a western society is the cost – in personal time as well as money – in dealing with an aging population, even to the point that in the US some states have filial responsibility laws and (like Pennsylvania) may start enforcing them. With more offspring, the responsibilities of eldercare are shared.
Time’s article has a sidebar, which downplays the rhetoric of the right-wing “demographic winter” argument, here. (There’s a paywall, but I went ahead and signed up for print and unlimited digital subscription at “only” $30 a year.) But Time’s comments depend particularly on the role of immigration into the U.S., which obviously complicates the arguments.

But, for me, it’s the psychological aspect of Russia’s thinking that needs the most attention.  (I must add, that Putin seems personally vitriolic against gays at the same time he gives asylum to Edward Snowden, a paradox.)   Mainstream psychologists and mental and sexual health professionals generally accept “immutability” of sexual orientation, and maintain that education or information about gay issues does not make young people otherwise so inclined less likely to have families in the future. In fact, many western observers find this idea so incredulous that they see it as simple scapegoating to cover up other issues.   Furthermore, western societies can look at encouraging more same-sex couples to adopt children.   Russia, as we know, has also prohibited adoption of children from Russia from any country allowing gay marriage.  But that measure might be understood more as a way to keep children from leaving Russia since it needs more population.
In my own experience, I have indeed encountered the idea that exposure to “me” could make other men less “fecund”.  At William and Mary, in the fall of 1961, shortly before I was “expelled”, my roommate did say words to the effect that he feared becoming impotent if he kept rooming with me.  (And the idea that I was a homosexual had started with him, partly when I had skipped out on a hazing ritual.)   In my “therapy” at the National Institutes of Health in the fall of 1962, I would again encounter hints of these ideas, even among the psychiatrists at the time.   Therapists were very concerned about the apparently existential implications of my sexual fantasies, as if I really believed that no man who was less than perfect should have a lineage, and would take some sort of post-Nazi pleasure in seeing that happen.  If so, it was understandable given the values of the world in which I had grown up, which had emphasized the horrors of physical inferiority and humiliation.  (Yes, it was like that in the 1950’s.)   Later, in the 1980’s, as I served on the board of a chess club in Dallas, TX, one member struggled with the idea that I must have chosen to be gay, but then,  saw through his over-fundamentalist upbringing and saw through his own thinking.  But this sort of thinking still persists in many parts of the world.  Try Uganda.