Thursday, January 30, 2014

Atlantic covers the topic of surnames for same-sex couples

Vicki Valosik has a long story in the Atlantic in September 2013 on surnames for same-sex couples, link here.

Couples sometimes want to change names for family socialization, or to make their rights seem stronger in case of disputes.

The article discusses a case where in DC a baby was allowed to have only the name of the biological mother, so the mother changed her surname too so that the other partner's name could be used, in order to establish a bond with the baby.

The problem gets difficult in states where same-sex couples cannot adopt, but only one member of the couple can adopt. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Virginia's new Democratic attorney general believes that the Marshall-Newman amendment banning gay marriage is itself unconstitutional

Virginia’s attorney general Mark R. Herring will announce that he believes that Virginia’s Marshall-Newman state constitutional amendment, passed in 2006, banning recognition not only of gay marriage but also gay civil unions, is unconstitutional at the federal level, according to a Washington Post front page story Thursday January 23, 2014, by Robert Barnes, link here.     
 Herring is a Democrat, and defeated Mark Obershain in a close election in 2013 with recounts.
Herring had voted against same-sex marriage as a state senator.  But former attorney general Ken Cuccinelli II has been vociferous in his opposition and defended the amendment as attorney general, which he says an AG is required to do.
Even if Herring believes that Virginia’s legal setup blocking gay marriage is unconstitutional, he will have to appoint someone to defend the ban.

Again, I still see arguments that legal marriage of opposite-sex marriage only “sends a message” that procreative sex within marriage is important (as is child rearing).  True, but when a law “sends a message” there are always going to be people disproportionately affected, which can include people who don’t even try to marry at all.  You cannot “prefer” something in public policy without hurting some people who don’t participate in what is preferred.  

Visitors may note Rick Sincere's recent post remembering that nine years ago, Virginia's own supreme court overturned its cohabitation law here.

Note: Subsequent reports indicate that Herring will not even appoint anyone else to defend the marriage ban.  He says an attorney general does not have to defend a law that he or she believes to be unconstitutional. The GOP is flailing on this one. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Nigeria, Uganda, Russia: anti-gay stories move quickly; is sylum, and refugee sponsorhip or housing an issue in the the cards?

There is rapid change and trans formation in the anti-gay rhetoric from at least three countries.

There are reports that the Ugandan president will veto the recent anti-gay bill because of recent pressure regarding “Fascist” legislation.

But in Nigeria, arrests of gays have occurred quickly, and thw LGBT community center in Lagos is now empty and closed.

Not since the Third Reich has it been a crime anywhere to associate with known homosexuals. The suddenness of the backlash in Nigeria is shocking.  The law even seems to confuse social assembly with civil union or marriage since it has been called an “anti-gay marriage law”.  During the AIDS panic of the 1980s, there was concern that the far right could push for such laws in the US (as in Texas) and one rather draconian bill was proposed but not enacted.  The State Department writes that Nigeria defines a "civil union" as any cohabitation where sexual relations occur.
I’m waiting for a link to an article by someone in Nigeria discussing the developments.
From Russia, Vladimir Putin told George Stehphanopoulos  that political protests would not be regarded as “propaganda” under the new law.  But then he told other reporters that homosexuality was a problem that could slow Russia’s finally thawing birth rate, and should be “cleaned up”.  An he still conflates homosexuality with pedophila.

It will be important to follow amnesty requests from these countries.  There could develop an issue of a need to find hosts and sponsors for "refugees", as happened with the Cuban refugees in 1980.

On another matter:  in Hell’s Kitchen, the “Therapy” really hops.  There is no cover, and a line forms to get in.  The bartenders seem to have tattoos and total shaves, but the guests are actually rather preppy and “conservative”, at least in winter.

Stonewall Inn does a nice drag show on Sunday nights.

Update: Jan. 31

A blogger named Blacky wrote on a post on a Wordpress blog called Wpolitika, "Modernity without a future?", where we could be heading, with a note, that almost seems quoted from me, that if you'd rather be a writer than raise kids, you'd better wonder if people will be around tomorrow to read what you wrote, here. What happens if you don't personally like the people you write for?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Gay I Do NYC": wedding packages in the Big Apple

I got an email today announcing a “Gay I Do NYC” function, with Facebook page here. or website here

The email said that the packages are available through the Duane Street Hotel here

There is a press release on PRWEB, here.
There is a cable series called “Say I Do NYC” which has a .gov website, which makes it look state or city sponsored, link here. I don’t know if that’s a regular television series or a web series.  Maybe this series should be marketed with “The Power Inside” (which is about birthdays, TV blog, Sept. 13, 2013).
The commercialization of gay marriage is sure to mean jobs in the states that recognize it.  It will mean more weddings, and more revenue for these companies.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On "Days", Sonny (after being waxed) proposes to Will, first ever in soap?

So today, on “Days of our Lives”, Sonny asked Will the question, “Will you marry me?”  He even bought a ring.

The episode was the second in which Guy Wilson appeared, replacing Chandler Massey as Will, who is supposed to be about 20.  Guy’s facial features look a little older than that, and he has less obvious physical swagger and external trappings.  But the character Will Horton plays the ultimate idea of the alpha male in nature:  Will can get another male as well as a female to help support and raise his daughter. Will, ironically, uses homosexuality to give his own genes a favorable future.  Wolves and lions do that.

The episodes were actually filmed in August, and there may have been some intervening days.  Nevertheless, Will suddenly lost his chest hair after learning of Nick’s death while “in the closet”, leading shortly to the marriage scene.

From the references (in the past, to some towns on a highway 13), the soap seems to take place in Ohio, which does not recognize gay marriage (but it refers to Statesville, which is in North Carolina).

I think Nick Fallon will re-emerge alive, to everyone’s shock.  We want Blake Berris back.

Here’s the proposal scene, link 

This seems to be the first soap opera with gay marriage in the US.   Maybe “Revenge” will try it with the super-nerd Nolan.  In New York State, it works.  

Update: Jan 16

Will's reaction was "Wow", and then "No", and then "Maybe".  Will says he wants to get married only once in his life, unlike his parents.

I do agree with the comment that Guy Wilson looks more like a son of Lucas and Sami than Chandler did.

Near the end of the episode, Will and Sonny were in bed together.  Maybe Freddie (Sonny) had to get waxed to match the new Will ("thmooth", like Lucas).  But that's like Ashton Kutcher's getting waxed in order to match a stunt man in "The Killers".   

Monday, January 13, 2014

State Dept. warns LGBT tourists that Russian law is real; some "deniers" surface; more on Eagle move, other post-Holiday parties

The State Department has been warning American LGBT tourists that Russia’s law outlining “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”.  The warning would apply to the Olympics in February in Sochi and afterward.  The link is here. State warns that the Russian laws are vague by American standards as to what constitutes "propaganda".  Possibly an internationally available website or blog would.  Possibly they would be blocked in Russia, but Facebook and Twitter postings would not.  When a traveler is on a foreign country's soil, they are at risk to whatever the legal system in that country wants to do, even for very unjust political reasons.  (Look at Uganda by comparison.) 
Still, so far, the main effect of the Duma’s action last June seems to be escalating violence, and not a rash of arrests or imprisonment.
In fact, some groups like “Reality Real Women of Canada” claim, as in a piece by C. Gwendolyn Gandolt, claim that “Russian family law is not anti-gay” (link here) and remind readers that Russia ended its sodomy law in 1993 (when many US states still had them) and do not pursue gays in their homes.  The article and comments definitely suggest that the issue is strongly related to the low Russian birth rate.  This idea is confirmed by many western sources, such as CBS News here

A subset of the western right wing has been making pro-natal (“natural family”) arguments and claiming that individualistic culture, with the degree of personal responsibility for one’s own children involved, is actually giving many people a disincentive to have children and “share the risks”.  I’ve reported on these arguments in my blogs.  I would wonder if the reporting on these “old arguments” (or “right baby arguments”) might have caught the attention of Russian politicians who believe that they can use the ideas for scapegoating, to hide other problems.  Of they might try to see the idea that procreation and raising a family is an existential moral responsibility for everyone, although such a view itself leads to some contradictions with other moral notions (as when dealing with infidelity).  This combines with a perception that “marginal” young men will decide not to have children once they learn that gay life is possible, or that lesbians will not allow men to have needed children by them.  The law seems crude and satirical; it is so “obvious” that it is hard to believe that it is real.
Nevertheless, I would personally have to take it very seriously if I wanted to travel to Russia, maybe to see the Hermitage in St. Petersburg or attend concerts.  Since I blog, authorities could my presence as a threat to their own reproductive potential, just out of very literalist reasoning.

Changing the subject:  I did try the “Bearzerk” party at the Cobalt DC Saturday night, a warm evening for January.  I’m underwhelmed by parties attracting specific cultural segments.  By midnight, the crowd had built up and become more typical. 

The latest credible story on the DC Eagle move appears in the City Paper, Jan. 10,, here

Friday, January 10, 2014

Russian club owner seeks asylum in US; Obama urged to use Magnitsky Act

The Washington Blade, in a story by Michael Lavers, reports that Arkady Gyngazov. the owner of a prominent gay club in Moscow, the Central Station, will seek political asylum in the United States.  He arrived in December.   The club was attacked twice in November, as explained in detail in the article here
The Russian anti-gay law seems to have led to increased violence against gays and lesbians and their businesses, on a shallow belief that gays are causing Russia to lose population.
Lavers also has a story about calls for president Obama to use the Magnitsky Act (the eponym is a Russian lawyer who died in 2009; wiki ) to freeze assets and deny visas to certain Russians associated with passing the anti-gay law. 

Thursday, January 09, 2014

SLDN, HRC puzzled by Gates's comments about DADT repeal in his new book

Robert Gates, former Secretary of Defense, has claimed in his new book “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary of War” from Knopf, that he was “blindsided” by President Obama during the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal process, the last chapter of the policy starting with a standalone repeal law passed in December 2010 by a “lame duck Congress” and then completed with a “certification”, leading to formal repeal (and a public event celebration on K Street in Washington by SLDN) on September 20, 2011.
I have not yet seen the book and expect to do so later, perhaps order it on Kindle. 
Both the HRC and SLDN really do not know where Gates is coming from.  He was on board with Obama throughout the process.  During the week before the passage of the law, there had been some contentious hearings on the Senate with objections of Senator John McCain, which I watched live from home on C-span before going to the demonstration on the north Capitol lawn on December 10, 2010.  While en route to the demonstration, I received a call that my own mother had suddenly taken a turn for the worse.  Cell phone conversations continued while I was at the demonstration.  I remember the entire day vividly. She would pass away on Dec. 14, and lived just long enough to see the repeal started, which she knew I had been passionate about.
Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade has a detailed story here
One would be concerned if his remarks could have any effect on a new administration or Congress in the future. I guess I'll need to read his book soon; hadn't planned to. 

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Boy Scouts start officially accepting openly gay members; yet right wing rhetoric follows

The Boys Scouts of America officially began accepting openly gay scouts on January 1, 2014, but we’re seeing some of the old rhetoric that I remember from the far right in the 1980s when HIV broke loose.
For example, Bryan Fischer from “Rightly Concerned” says that public policy should “discriminate” against behavior (or its proponents) it considers anti-social, and goes on to compare homosexuality to a long list of other evils (even cannibalism, or the “Silence of the Lambs” kind – what a metaphor).  He talks about being “destructive to social fabric” without any concrete reasoning other than the appeal to religion and the Bible.  Perhaps he should face the idea that contemplation of male homosexuality makes marginal heterosexuals less confident that they can get and keep a heterosexual relationship and raise a family.  That really is what Russia’s argument is all about – Putin seems unashamed to admit that it’s about low birth rates and reproduction.  So do most lower income cultures.  The link to his post is here

There's no question that the slow-motion but eventually successful repeal of the military "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" put rhetorical pressure on the BSA. 
A Boy Scout leader in Texas compared gays to “thieves” (maybe of resource that would otherwise go to parents) and said they should be referred to counseling, as in a Huffington Post story in the Gay Voices column, here.
Libertarian Richard Sincere (GLIL) reposted his 1999 Wall Street Journal article, before the 2000 Supreme Court decision in favor of the BSA, in which he talks about the loss of private spaces to government regulation, link here.  Sincere says the article had been lost in search engines but was still in the archives of the  Independent Gay Forum, still online  but without the discussion boards popular around the year 2000. The forums took too much volunteer time to monitor.  By the way, I've never thought about searching LexisNexis for an article. 
Of course, over the years the BSA’s use of public space became controversial.  I remember being compelled to try Cub Scouts at the age of 7.  I went no further.  But it was such a prominent cultural institution over the decades that I wonder how private it really was.  It even advertised job openins for programmers in the 1980s.  The HQ is near DFW airport, as I recall, from having driven past it in rental cars in return trips to Texas (where I lived in the 80s).  

Monday, January 06, 2014

Kluwe interviewed on AC360 over his pro-gay-marriage speech and coaches' reaction; more on Utah, and "Russian infertility"

Chris Kluwe, former punter for the Minnesota Vikings, spoke on AC360 on CNN tonight, and discussed the homophobic comments made to him supposedly by another coach, as well as his work with Minnesotans for Marriage Equality.  KARE has a story on his action here
Kluwe has authored “Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies: On Myths, Morons, Free Speech, Football, and Assorted Absurdities”, June 2013, published by Little Brown.  Cooper asked Kluwe if it is a problem when NFL players call attention to their own opinions on things in the media, or put themselves in the limelight, perhaps a detraction from the team.
In other news, Liz Cheney has abandoned her Senate primary bid, and the US Supreme Court has ordered that same-sex marriages in Utah be put on hold until the recent opinion goes through the appeals process.
In Russia, Putin is reported to have used the phrase “genderless and infertile western tolerance”, as if to suggest that Russia’s recent anti-gay-speech law is indeed “logically” related to its low birth rate.
NBC’s coverage om the international pressure on Russia is here.
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Wednesday, January 01, 2014

"The Town" is packed for New Years; Fox commentator seems to take libertarian stance on marriage issue

The New Year’s Eve Party at Town DC was as packed as I have ever seen it.  Lena wore a lavender outfit this time, quite flashy.  The show was over by 11 PM so both levels were packed for the hour leading up to New Years.  The upstairs was decorated with wintry stuff, not exactly what you would find at Burj Dubai.
I’ve noticed a lot of condo and office construction in the blocks around the Town and the 930 Club.  I hope a regular commercial parking garage, 24 hours, is in the plans. 

The Washington Blade reports that the DC Eagle must leave its location on New York Avenue after 25 years there, and has applied for a full license for a property on Benning Road, NE, near I-295 and the Minnesota Ave. Orange Line stop.  The story by Lou Chibbaro, Jr. is here.  The story is shown on the Eagle’s own site .  I have not been there much, so I have never seen the barber chair used. I can only imagine what can happen. 

In Washington  DC, “NE” is viewed as the dangerous part of town.  But, just like U Street, much of Northeast is becoming gentrified, as along H Street with the new trolley line, with new condos.  The result, as with the area around Nationals Park (where Tracks and then Velvet Nation used to live, as well as the Wet, and even the Lost and Found a long time ago) is that people with more money move in and drive the poor people out, toward PG County, leaving a lot of tension in the area.  That’s true of some of SE and Anacostia, where DC Shorts Film Festival had a venue.  The area looks much better than it used to, but it has a reputation in the media as dangerous.

I thought I would pass on this op-ed on Fox News by Keith Ablow, “Marriage Died in 2013”, link here.  Actually, the piece is rather libertarian, like Gene Cisewski’s “License Expired” in 1996 on GLIL’s newsletter “The Quill”.  Government has no place in defining consenting adult  people’s intimate relationships, he concludes.