Monday, April 28, 2014

Brigham Young University in Utah plays "Do Ask, Do Tell"

Brigham Young University in Utah, connected very much to the LDS church, is definitely following a “Do Ask, Do Tell” philosophy with a survey of student sexuality, apparently reinforced by the honor code, as in this “Think Progress” story, link

It still strikes me how “social conservatives” jump on homosexuality as a proxy for a refusal or failure to become socialized into meeting the long-term needs of family or associated community.  It also strikes me how some people want to become intrusive and aggressive to keep the world fitting their own moral model, which they know they could fail to live up to themselves.   
Wikipedia attribution link for Provo-BYU picture (my last visit, May 1981). Note the Salt Lake, arid mountain range in the background. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Transgendered ban in US military still in place; repeal of DADT had no effect on it

The Washington Post is reporting Sunday that transgendered individuals still cannot serve in the military.  The link is here. The video was produced by Whitney Learning 
The Post has a video called, ironically, “Serving in Silence” (the same title as Grethe Cammermeyer’s book and TV film from the 1990s), about a discharge of a sailor who had entered as a female and changed to male. Transgender people who seek sexual reassignment surgery outside of the military are still discharged.

The video says that an amazing 20% of transgendered people have served in the military
13 countries do allow transgendered people to serve in the military after transition.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

LGBT asylum assistance is really two issues (for those overseas, for those already here); another assistance fund, and another upcoming meeting in DC

There seem to be two different sets of problems getting set up with respect to LGBT people from hostile countries seeking asylum here.   
One of these would be raising money to move LGBT people in immediate danger our of countries with the most eminently life-threatening situations, as with Nigeria and Uganda particularly.  The “Safe Passage Fund” mentioned April 21 would do that.  But there seem to be other funds.  Attorney Melanie Nathan discusses an Escape Fund (or "Rescue Fund 2") on her blog with this entry here.
Again, what would be important would be whether regular contributions could be funneled “impersonally” through a bank or trust.  Contributions to these funds appear not to be tax-deductible.

But there are a substantial number of such LGBT people already in the US (and in Canada, Britain and other western countries) whose visas can expire and who can face deportation, which can endanger their lives in some cases.  In a few cases, a few persons seem to have arrived in the US somehow but have no funds or papers and are homeless and perhaps here illegally.  There are organizations in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Washington DC to provide some assistance.  The issue of people already here could create an urgency reminiscent of that with the Cuban refugees in southern US in 1980. One can imagine situations where the government allows visas to be extended or asylum granted only when there is some kind of personal sponsorship, although this is obviously a loaded and speculative issue.  (Imagine the idea that someone could be pressured to marry an immigrant seeking asylum, in states allowing it. Obviously, this is a murky area that the US State Department, at least, is going to be slow to comment on.)  The Center for LGBT Equality in Washington DC says it will hold a public meeting on the matter on May 30, 2014, but the place has yet to be announced (link here).  There was a smaller meeting open only to clients and their attorneys on April 19
A group called “immigration equality” publishes a complex legal guide here.
Another “Blogger” essay explains the “philosophy of continuity of life” in tribal African culture here

Update: May 28, 2014

The meeting on asylum actually took place in 2013 (not this year).  I'll try to fund out what was said at it, since the issue would seem to have become much more acute since then.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Food and Friends has "Dining Out" night; more anti-gay violence and baiting in Africa reported as urgent

Tonight, I partook of the “Dining Out for Life” night for Food and Friends, at the “Cote d’Or” in Falls Church, VA.  The charity was to get a large portion of the tab, as well as special donations.
While at the French restaurant (remembrances of ninth grade) I checked a couple articles on the sudden eruption of anti-gay laws in Africa in the past few years.
“The Daily Beast” notes that western activism seems to stoke the fires, as gay people are made scapegoats for the past sins of colonialism, link here.
“The Week” has an “all you need to know” article March 30, here. Note the comment, sorted by "Newest", by "ahabsy:" claiming that those who support "gay rights" do not "care about the continuity of life" and that homosexuality threatens his children's futures.  In other words, he resents the idea that homosexual culture could influence his own descendants to have fewer children/ 
Gays have been targeted suddenly and heavily in both Nigeria and Uganda, with Uganda’s law also punishing others for not turning in homosexuals.  A group called “Human Rights First” has documented the crisis, and also covered the spread of Russian-style “propaganda laws” in former Soviet republics, here. The activities of certain evangelicals, including Scott Lively, is part of the picture in Uganda especially.  The article notes that homosexuality is legal in some parts of Africa still considered very unstable, including the Central African Republic and the Congo.  On the other hand, anti-gay laws are spreading to Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Zimbabwe, apparently, with rationalizations that sound childish to western thinking. 

A crisis could come quickly (as noted in the previous post) if there are appeals for asylum to avoid prison or death sentences.  But this was of appealing for help from citizens in western countries has not been attempted with Muslim countries;  would it with sub-Saharan Africa?  Eventually, the US State Department will probably have to comment. And it could put some Americans into a challenge as to what they can do.

Other media sources report about people from these countries who have already come here in various circumstances.  The total picture is still murky, and not well covered yet by the main media, even gay media.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Safe Passage Fund" set up for gay activists in hostile countries; refugees in Kenya with major conference planned; Moscow's Central Station closes;

The Advocate and the HRC report the formation of a “Safe Passage Fund” for endangered LGBTQ activists in hostile countries, at least Uganda (probably Nigeria and several other African countries; Russia is unclear).  The link is here.  It would be important to see if this can be set up directly through a bank automated deposit program such as what some estates and trusts use.  There would be a question as to whether this is just about money or also about sponsors (with the short lived Cuban refugee crisis in 1980 as it played out in the gay community in Dallas).  It seems that most of the attempted safe harbor emigration is likely to be to Canada.
The Advocate has a chilling story of “violent homophobia in Uganda” by Sundye Brydum, where witch-hunts of various kind seems to have increased immediately after signing the new anti-homosexuality law, here
HRC has a report today (April 21) of an upcoming Pan Africa IGLA Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, link here.  The article reports that refugees are leaving Uganda for neighboring Kenya, and that the political climate (and fear of terrorism) could lead to passing similar laws in Kenya.

“Pink News” in London reports (March 17) that the Central Station in Moscow closed as a result of repeated and uncontrollable vigilante attacks, story here.  
Countries with lower standards of living are certainly turning on western ideas of LGBT individualism, let alone equality. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Openly gay prospective candidate for Washington DC is independent to libertarian?

Is DC openly gay potential (but unannounced)  candidate for mayor of Washington DC, running as an Independent, and formerly a Republican, really libertarian, or reformist in the Jesse Ventura sense?  The Washington Post article today doesn’t really say (link).  NBC4 has a story about endorsement from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund here.

Although that possibility could make sense, that an independent could take on a Michael Bloomberg style of governing, since gay rights is obviously good for business now. But remember, Bloomberg has tried to restore the nanny state in NYC with limits on the sizes of pop servings. 
I haven’t heard much from GLIL about this candidate yet, but I probably will.
I don’t see any statement from Log Cabin Republicans, but I do see a Huffington Post article about the growth of approval of gay marriage in the GOP voter base, link.

It’s a ways down the pike yet. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday weekend, more talk about deterioration of LGBT life overseas, wondering about asylum

OK, Town DC had a birthday party last night, I guess in preparation for Palm Sunday, or maybe Tax Tuesday.  But one of the drag queens made a lookback to the “Lady in the Radiator” from the world of David Lynch.(wiki)
As often the case, the dance floor upstairs starts to get really lively around 12:30 AM.  "In Heaven, everything is fine" and that means go upstairs.  

On Sunday, I made it out to MCC Northern Virginia (also mentioned today on the drama and music blog). Afterward, we had a brunch at a local sports bar (“Buffalo Wings University”) in Fairfax Virginia. 

I asked the pastor if there had been any talk yet about the possible repercussions of the severe anti-gay laws passed overseas – the worst in Nigeria and Uganda.  There was at least some discussion of whether asylum requests could become related to sponsors in the US (or Canada or other western countries), in comparison to the course of the “Cuban refugee crisis” in 1980 which was a big deal in Dallas.  It’s all preliminary and tentative.  The State Department hasn’t said much yet.  It does seem that in Russia, as whole there are relatively few arrests, and the biggest problem seems to be the incitement of targeting and violence.  Nigeria and Uganda are a step worse.  But anti-gay attitudes are common in “primitive” or poor countries.    

Saturday, April 12, 2014

New proposals to soak the childless obviously affects LGBT people

Here’s an attention getting article from Slate which a friend tweeted today while I spent disposable income at Angelika Mosaic, “Tax the Childless: We should slash taxes on parents by jacking them up for non-parents”,  by Reiham Salam, link here

The article does some numbers regarding the deficits and debt, and claims that such a measure would make working parents a more effective voting block.  The details thereof would make another post someday. The article analyzes a tax proposal by Tea Party Republican Mike Lee.

There’s a juicy quote about how “my childless friends grow crankier and more decrepit.”  Of course, she talks about the “disposable income” argument. 

There were some books about this ten years ago:  Elinor Burkett’s “The Baby Boon: How Family Friendly America Cheats the Childless” (March 28, 2006 on the Books blog), where the author admits that the deliberately childless cheat the system; then Phillip Longman’s “The Empty Cradle” (same date) and Allan Carlson and Paul Mero, “The Natural Family” (Sept. 2009).  Remember, Mussolini taxes bachelors.

Of course, the hooker is how this would affect LGBT people.  No doubt, it makes gay marriage and the rules for gay parents (and adoption) critical.  But is also raises existential questions about the way we view ourselves as individuals able to share goals together and make sacrifices, sometimes deep ones, sometimes.  Outlining the “logic” of all this is not simple, as I struggled with it in my recent “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book.
Don Lemon in CNN often reminds us he is a non-parent.
One of the psychological problems has to do with being forced to make sacrifices for other people’s choices, specifically, other people’s sexual passions.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

10th Circuit hears oral arguments on Utah's gay marriage ban

There are reports that the 3-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit is leaning toward the plaintiffs, 2-1, after oral arguments in the challenge to Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage in the heavily Mormon state, with a report in “the wire” here

ABCNews carries an AP story by Nicholas Riccardi here 
The state is said to have used a flawed study regarding the children of same-sex couples in defending its law.  Generally, the state is also arguing that the institution is set up to provide for the welfare of children, not to ratify romantic attachments among adults for their own sakes.
If there are differing opinions among the circuits, some state bans on recognition of gay marriage and even civil unions are likely to go before the Supreme Court, perhaps in 2015.

Wikipedia attribution link for Great Salt Lake, personal visits in 1966, 1981. 

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Arlington VA Catholic gay music minister fired after he gets married in Maryland, and congregations quickly become divided on this

The Catholic Diocese in Arlington Va ordered the firing (or forced resignation) of Mike McMahon, music director at St. Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington, after the church learned he had married his partner in Maryland.

Religious employers used to a “don’t ask don’t tell” practice now find that learning of marriage, often in another state that recognizes it, provokes an unacceptable challenge to church authority and teaching.
The Washington Post story by Michelle Boorstein is here

But in practice, congregations seem divided about it.  Tradition religious theory says that “God” finds that accepting homosexuality will weaken the ability of heterosexuals to get and remain married when challenged with difficult circumstances.   It’s the idea, “I can deal with if I know everyone else has to.” Yet even in conservative congregations, few families would actually admit that knowledge of gay marriages even among church officials would weaken their own marriages or relationships with their own kids. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Federal judge says Ohio has to recognized same-sex marriages from other states

A federal judge has ruled that Ohio will have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. 
USA Today has a story here, about the ruling from US District court judge Timothy Black. The ruling does not affect Ohio’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages within the state (link).  Note that the link has an up-to-date state map for the entire USA.
The Ohio ruling occurred one day after “Will and Sonny” were married in a soap opera, “Days of our Lives”, that appears to take place in Ohio from past episodes.
There’s also a lawsuit in Ohio by same-sex parents to allow both names to be listed on a birth certificate.
This is allowed in some states, like Iowa.

Yet, the Washington Times Robert Knight has an editorial “Recovering the meaning of marriage: Not a scheme for alienation, it’s the purpose of creation, link here

The pace of suits in individual states seems to be increasing,

Friday, April 04, 2014

Mozilla CEO resigns over past contribution to support CA Prop 8

Brendan Eich resigned as CEO of Mozilla, after it was disclosed he had made a donation in 2008 to support California Proposition 8.  The Wall Street Journal story is here. 

Mozilla, as an employer, has long offered same-sex couples the same benefits as opposite-sex couples. 
Eich is credited with having invented javascript as a programming scripting language for websites (not to be confused with java). 
The controversy over Eich echoes the discussion after the Chik-Fil-A CEO spoke out against gay marriage in 2012.  In just two years, that sort of position has become less acceptable in mainstream media.

The capacity of someone in a leadership position in any major company (with direct reports, or the duty to make decisions about customers or stakeholders) to speak publicly on controversial social issues, even on his own, has long been a possible “conflict of interest” issue, at least in ethical thinking. Here is a more detailed take on my own history with it.  My concern had more to do with unsupervised broadcast speech than financial donations, but the latter would sound more obvious. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Virginia holds that Mashall-Newman protects procreation

The fourth circuit in Richmond is being told that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage (Marshall-Newman) effectively protects procreation, according to a Washington Blade story Monday. 
My reaction was that sounds like Vladimir Putin’s reasoning.
Marriage as a socially supported institution is not set up to ratify the romantic needs of adults, but to provide for children, the state argued.
But then, one could ask, why not provide the benefits only when there are children or at least other dependents in a family.  You could count an unborn (from a pregnancy) as a child.
As I’ve written so many times before, the real significance of “inequality” is that the unmarried sometimes are called upon to make sacrifices to subsidize the sexual relationships of the married.  For me that started in the 1990s when I sometimes pulled nightcall (without compensation, although I got bigger raises) for those with kids.  Or back in 1970 when my first employer (RCA) paid a higher subsidy during travel for married than singles, even if the spouse didn’t go (story link).