Friday, October 31, 2014

Southern Baptists offer half-hearted, inconsistent apology for stance on homosexuality

The Wall Street Journal, in a story on p. A6 today, by Tamara Audi, reports “Southern Baptists soften tone on gays”, at a conference in Tennessee, link here.
Albert Mohler, head of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, apologized for “denying the reality of sexual orientation” and for implying that GLBT go the Hell, but did claim that sexual orientation can change and that a day of judgment is coming.  This sounds like a self-contradictory “apology”. 
Again, religious teaching seems to suggest that family responsibility is easier for parents if everyone participates.  Marriage, in this view, seems to flourish because of an expectation that everyone follows the same rules.  "Southern Baptist Sissies" (to repeat the name of a musical film, reviewed on the movies blog Feb. 19, 2014) seem to prove a big distraction for some "normal" people.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses his own sexuality in an essay

Apple CEO Tim Cook has an essay in Businessweek where he discusses the fact that he is gay, and his own perspective on his role in gay equality, link here. Of course, he sets a tremendous example and is right now probably the most visible gay executive in the US, maybe the world.

Just this past Sunday, I encountered an Apple store in Grand Central Station in NYC.  
According to CNN, 91% of Fortune 500 companies do have anti-discrimination policies with respect to sexual orientation.  Yet, 53% of LGBT workers still “hide” at work, especially in conservative states.

We have come a long way.  But I remember back in the early 1980s, whenever the television cameras came into Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas on Reagan St, there was a section where no one would be photographed.  One time, at a post-pride party in Lee Park on Dallas (on Turtle Creek), I appeared on camera, and a consultant at work the next day said he was surprised to see me there.  Some people would react to learning this by bragging about “feeding their babies” and even taking second jobs selling cars to do so.  The cultural disconnect then was profound, and it had so much to do with procreation. 

Back in 1973, the Ninth Street Center in New York City, in its own journal, called homosexuality "civilization's secret".  No politician would mention it publicly then.  True.  Nixon had Watergate on his mind.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

High Heels Race in Washington DC (17th Annual) is packed!

The gay community and tavern guild in Washington DC held the 17th Annual High Heels Race on 17th Street, between Q and T St. NW.
As with last year, the public was not allowed to cross 17th Street without going to one end or the other of the route – that is, except for people in drag (and they had to register at one of the clubs).  This is like “The Rocky Picture Horror Show” (which I saw on stage once in Minneapolis), in that you are “forced” to go into drag!

The “parade” lasted two hours but consisted mostly of drag queens running around on the space.  The only place where you could get dinner quickly was the MacDonalds, which was full but served us very efficiently.  The Subway shop ran out of bread, and Annie’s and the Trio, among others, were packed full, just as in pride. 

The race started promptly at 9 PM, and lasted about 45 seconds.  The parade that followed out of the area below Q Street (about at the location of the new Drake Apartments behind the First Baptist Church) was rather long.


WJLA was present.  The weather was warm (in the 70s) and dry. 

Effectively, this is a small Halloween week pride event.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pentagon still bans transgendered from military, and the public hardly notices: more about culture than privacy or cohesion?

Sandyha Somashekhar has an important front page story in the Washington Post on Tuesday reminding us that transgendered people are still banned from military service, link here. And in August the Post had reported a story on a study by Checkpoint reporting that over 15000 transgendered people served covertly in the military, here and that it would not be difficult to lift the ban.  The story mentioned issues with Selective Service registration, which still requires that only men register.
Transgendered people can be “heterosexual” or “gay” after sexual reassignment surgery;  all combinations have occurred.  The “other” Scott Peck interviewed a now-female in 1993 who had been forced to leave the Navy after 15 years but continued in exactly the same job in intelligence, as a GS without a uniform.  Remember, intelligence services didn’t officially end their bans even on LGBT civilians until 1996, after an XO from President Clinton (who spoke at HRC Saturday night).
The different attitude toward “trans” as opposed to “gay” seems to reflect a cultural attitude and not much more.  Some of our mentality now seems to practically revere the “masculine gay” (look at the popularity of all the main characters in the movie “Judas Kiss” – even Shane – but their demeanor is always gender-conforming).  How many of us are ready to see Mort in “Transparent” (TV, Oct. 6) as a hero?  

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bars in NYC seem to be scanning DL/passport bar codes as patrons enter; troubling questions about security, quarantine, surveillance, privacy

Going to a small dance bar in New York City Saturday night, I was surprised when the doorman actually scanned the barcode on my Virginia driver’s license (mandatory age verification) as I went in. 
I wondered if this was a new state or city requirement.  I can see how it could help provide security for the bar, leaving evidence for law enforcement if there were to be some kind of incident.  But it could backfire.  Suppose someone has come back from West Africa and then later is identified with Ebola, or that something like this happens in the future with some other pandemic (SARS, bird flu, etc).  That was a huge controversy in NYC this past weekend considering the case of (heterosexual) Dr. Craig Spencer.  The point is that the government could use the automated records (from the scans) to check every place the person could have visited.  The establishment could risk mandatory closure, possibly for an extended period, possibly putting it out of business.

One question that obviously comes up, too, is surveillance -- the NSA, Snowden stuff.  It wasn't too many decades ago that this practice would have created enormous privacy issues for people, when governments raided gay bars and (as in the early 1970s) the Mafia protected them.  Or when governments took down license plates in parking lots, especially looking for military members or even people with clearances.  The Internet age seemed to blow away all the old privacy concerns, except that some people, as I have noted, have become more concerned about being photographed by others in the past three or four years again. 
Nobody likes to talk about security, of course, even given these very dangerous times.  There have been very few incidents over the years, as in Atlanta and Seattle.  The worst in history happened in New Orleans in January 1973, when I was “coming out” and this was the first thing I heard about.
Back in the 1990s, when the world was not perceived as so hostile, the Tracks disco sometimes screened for weapons when people entered.  (It did have one minor incident that I recall someone at MCCDC telling me about.)  The Navy Yard area (in Washington) then was low income, a situation that persisted when the Velvet Nations replaced it. Around 2004-2005, sometimes panhandlers would “approach” to “protect” your car when parking.  Once, in late 2004, I drove past a holdup in progress about four blocks from the club.  I told the management when I entered and the manager immediately called DC police, who then conferred with me by phone a couple times, but I never testified.   

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bill Clinton speaks at HRC Dinner in Washington

Former president Bill Clinton addressed the Human Rights Campaign dinner Saturday night in Washington DC.  Towerload has a major excerpt from his speech for HRC International here. 

This year, I was not in attendance, as other plans conflicted – musical concerts in New York.  I actually was close to where Clinton's Harlem office is Sunday.   I can get to something this big about once every other year.  The event is less expensive for Federal Club members.  
Above is a comment from Clinton on gays in the military from 2008. Remember Clinton originated the "Don't Pursue" appendix to the 1993 "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"/ 

Clinton probably picked the vegan meal, which the dinner offers. Portebello tastes good.

The Washington Post reports ("Party Diary" by Helena Andrews) that several other celebrities were present, including Eric Holder, Yeardley Smith, and Sir John and David Furnish, link here

In 2001, I met Independent Governor Jesse Ventura at the HRC Dinner in Minneapolis three weeks after 9/11.  I remember his saying “it is safe to fly”.  You're supposed to go to these things in formal attire, but I never do that;  a normal suit and tie is the "best" I will do.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

"Freedom to Work" reports on anti-gay discrimination at ExxonMobil after merger

A group called Freedom to Work is fighting little-covered discrimination against LGBT employees, as outlined in this story here. The most visible complaint seems to be against Exxon, which apparently removed protections for LGBT workers from Mobil when they merged.
I do remember the Mobil building when I lived in Dallas (near Stemmons and Inwood, as I recall).  I had a job interview with ARCO in 1983, but did not get hired.  
I held XOM stock myself for many years, before my financial advisor sold it (without asking). 

The most significant “wage” discrimination is the tendency for single or childless people to “work for a discount”, doing more on-call work in salaried positions without compensation, which works both ways.  It tends to lowball the compensation market for everyone.  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Could Ebola present an existential "political" threat to gay (and straight) clubs? Trace the parallel history with HIV 30 years ago; it's chilling

So, will Ebola cause a particular crisis for LGBT people, particularly gay men?

Of course, it’s tempting to draw parallels to HIV and AIDS, in several areas. Let’s plow through it.
The most immediate relevant immediate medical fact is that Ebola remains transmissible in sperm for several months after a person recovers.  It is very obvious that this concern would apply to homosexual and heterosexual sex alike.  There is no way that Ebola could ever be a “gay disease” and speculative right-wing arguments articulated in the 1980s (especially in a group of politicians promoting very anti-gay legislation in Texas) about “amplification” make no sense here.  It’s a good question (even for heterosexually married men) whether condoms offer enough protection during this period. If anything, we're learning that novel epidemics can arise in many different communities around the world and blow up for a lot of different reasons.  
There is another context, though, in which all of this is important to much of the gay community.  I could relate my own perspective.  From 1975 through 1983, I went through a period where I “brought men home” and sometimes went to the baths.  Since early spring 1983, I’ve “tricked” (in the conventional sense of what that usually means) only once, and that was in Minnesota in August 1999.  My last visit to a bathhouse was in March 1983 at the Club in Dallas.  (My first had been at the Club in New York in early 1975.)  As we know, in early summer 1984, the San Francisco Health Department closed the baths (I remember being at an Oak Lawn Softball Association party in Dallas when this was announced), and other cities followed suit very quickly.  As a business, the bathhouse industry was destroyed.  We learned to live without it.  In its place, some “quasi hotels” opened that were much simpler facilities which had private rooms and official (non enforced) policies of not having sex on the premises.  I have visited one of these only once, in the 1990s.  And sometimes “private party clubs” have formed, as there were well known in DC in the 1990s.
A lot of written about the transmission of Ebola, being related only to direct contact with body fluids.  Ebola is much more transmissible than HIV, which, as noted, explains why it cannot ever be a “gay disease”.  There is speculative discussion as to whether it could become airborne (see my Issue blog Oct. 16), and even, because of some unusual microbiology of infection, whether much longer incubation periods than have been reported are possible with very minimal exposures.   This latter discussion may help explain the draconian measures taken against some people with very minimal risk of exposure, especially in Ohio.  Again, the official line is that someone cannot transmit Ebola until there are significant symptoms that would keep the person out of the public anyway.  Some seem not so sure, and health officials are notifying hundreds of people (with apparently no risk and only the most incidental contact of being on the same airliner or business) and these people may be grounded. 
The usual concept that is relevant is called “social distancing”.  That idea has been applied mainly to airborne diseases, especially influenza and SARS/MERS.  This could become important. Clubs facilitate some intimate contact, especially discos (“dirty dancing”) in the gay community and “straight” community alike.   It is quite plausible to imagine health departments wanting to pull dance licenses on clubs “to protect health”.  This bears analogy to the closing of the baths three decades ago.  Many clubs would not survive such a measure, as customers would find no reason to find.  In fact, most clubs (outside a few cities like New York and San Francisco where there are many “fern” bars with no dancing) need to offer a climate where some intimacy happens and encouraged – intimacy which is known (after three decades of experience) not to be particularly risky with respect to HIV but which could turn out to be dangerous with Ebola or, more likely, a different airborne pandemic to happen in the future.  Clubs could also face arbitrary closure if an employee or even possibly a customer were identified with Ebola right after being on the premises (unlikely, we think, but not impossible).  Already, some insurance companies are pondering how to underwrite such “business interruption” and it seems so capricious when managed by governments and health departments.  We already know from experience that once clubs are closed (and lose liquor or dancing permits), they often find enormous political resistance to reopening, partly because many members of the public (saying they are concerned about noise and traffic) have “moral” objections to bars and dance halls to begin with.
There has been little coverage of this possibility in the gay press so far.  As with AIDS three decades ago, the gay press could rightly fear that it could provoke adverse behavior by politicians by merely talking about it, but this time, with an Internet, the circumstances are more nuanced, and it is independent bloggers who might wind up in the position of saying “I told you so.”  The Dallas Voice this morning does have a brief story of a candlelight vigil for the two Dallas nurses with Ebola, here. The mainstream gay press continues the stories on gay marriage, benefits, and overseas persecution as if it were business as usual.   And of course it must.  Back in the 1980s, there were some in the Dallas Gay Alliace who thought my "objectivity" was simply putting ideas in the heads of "enemies" that they could not have come up with on their own.  

Update: Nov, 2

Senator Rand Paul said on CNN on Candy Crowley's show, that the libertarianism in him opposed quarantyines, but that people who believe they could have been exposed to Ebola "shouldn't go to the discotheque, the bar, or the school cafeteria". 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Asylum issue discussed after film at HRC forum, but remarks were kept general and high-level

At an HRC screening of a film (sponsored by Reel Affirmations) on the anti-gay “propaganda law” in Russia (that is, “Campaign of Hate: Russia and Gay Propaganda” by Michael Lucas, there were people from the DC Lesbian and Gay Center and Spectrum present during the QA.

The discussion pointed out that the rules for asylum do allow someone who belongs to a stigmatized “social group” to apply, and that the person does not have to “prove” that he or she is gay. 
I discussed the issue privately afterwards.  A few asylees from Russia and possibly Africa are in Washington, as in some other cities (especially Chicago).   The DC Center says it needs more help, but its website doesn’t give specifics, and neither does Spectrum.

People on asylum typically would not be allowed to work in the US for at least six months, so, as someone said, they would need “connections” to support them.  However, in contrast to how the 1980 Cuban Refugee crisis was handled in southern states, there has been no plea to ask people to house them or support them.  At that time, it was presented as a “moral edge”.  Personal morality (“paying it forward” and the like) has been kept out of the discussion this time.

There are good reasons for this.  The government is not pressuring individual Americans to support refugees (as with the Central American crisis and migrant children), because that could indirectly encourage illegal immigration.  In some countries (like Israel) that would normally be OK now with gay immigrants, there is concern that someone could feign homosexuality to hide terrorism.  And, following the news, there can be public health risks, especially from some countries (and in the future there could be other health issues besides Ebola or, in this context, HIV). 
The Washington Blade, in a story by Michael K. Lavers, reports a horrific attempted street kidnapping of gay activist in Hondouras, but the young man escaped, story here

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vatican experiences a "pastoral earthquake" on gay issues

The media is widely reporting a new stand on gay people from the Vatican synod, under the influence of the new Pope Francis but not directly written by him.  The new directive says that LGBT people often (as individuals) have unique gifts to offer Christian and Catholic faith.  (It’s pretty obvious that a lot of this is in music – organ and choir, and composition;  some of it is “the Alan Turing effect” in science and can be game-changing.)  The BBC story is here. Another account, in Huffington, is here. The Vatican did not endorse same-sex marriage and says, “don’t make too much of this” today. But others call this a "pastoral earthquake"/  

Vatican theology has always, in the past, suggested that all sexuality should occur only within the context of heterosexual marriage where there is openness to procreation.  The Vatican used to see this point as a social justice issue because it implied that everyone will share the “risks” of child rearing, and simply not opt out because it is expensive, burdensome, or presents unpredictable challenges (a child’s disability).  There is an idea that some “obligations” of societal “citizenship” are more likely to be carried out, or become more fulfilling and meaningful, if one knows that everyone else has to live up to the same expectation.  Previous Vatican theory (as does that of most “conservative” religions) had held that starting and keeping a family was one way a man experiences putting his life and purpose on line for others when he really has to.  (Of course, men did this when they were drafted into the military, often before they were old enough to be likely to have married even in the most optimal circumstances.)  Religious theology has usually made a lot of capping individual sovereignty, which affects those who are “different” (like me), both individually and as a result of policy.

Remember, marriage equality as we see it today is relatively new as a compelling issue (mostly within the past fifteen years).  "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the older military gay ban were compelling because they bore on the capacity of gay people to share the deeper responsibilities and hazards of civilization.  So were other kinds of discrimination, like in Scouting or with security clearances, and broader employment.  Back in the 1980s, the issue was privacy (and medical progress), especially in light of AIDS.  And before that, merely being left alone had been a big issue, although throughout the 1970s, after Stonewall, in most larger cities, things had gotten much better, but gays tended to live openly in "urban exile" away from the crimping socializing influence of much of family life. That's how I had experienced most of my adult life. 

Previous Vatican directives had been horrible. An earlier statement had been issued in 2005, as here  (in Italian). 

In 1986, Cardinal Ratzinger and now former Pope had written (in “The Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”), in fact, “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech and action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church from the Church’s pastors wherever it occurs….Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is more or less a tendency toward an intrinsic moral evil and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder…The use of sexual behavior can be morally good [only in a marital relation framed by procreation]. A person engaging in homosexual behavior therefore acts immorally.”

Later Tuesday, CNN reported that the Vatican had "backtracked" on its comments, after protests from "conservative Catholics", here.
Picture: Volleyball at Northern VA gay pride, although the photo effect in the autumn sunlight makes the players look a bit like "The Leftovers"/  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Fathers earn more than childless men. Does this apply to gay dads?

There is a story on CNN Money that fathers earn more than non-fathers, even within any age group. It’s titled “It Pays to Be a Dad”, and is by Tami Luhby, link here

The story didn’t focus on married men (as opposed to unmarried me) with kids. 

One question, of course, is “Why?”   Is being a father, a sign of “reproductive success”, itself a sign of greater competitiveness?  Or does having responsibility to provide for kids encourage men to play harder for the big bucks? Or does it have to do with discrimination against singles as less "responsible" (or less "driven")?   If so, it's discrimination against some men for what they don't do (engage in procreative sexual intercourse).  
For gay men, this used to be a question of “singles” vs. “married with kids”.  LLDEF, particularly, wrote pieces in the 90s that gay and single men (and women) worked “at a discount’, particularly in salaried environments, where people don’t get paid for overtime.  I often played this card, and that helps explain in part how I went 30 years without layoff. Whew!

Now there is a new wrinkle, gay dads (who have steadily increased in visibility since the 1990s) and gay dads in same-sex marriages.  I haven’t seen any data on how they (“gay dads”) fare compared to non-parent gays.  We’re seeing this play out with the “Will and Sonny” supercouple in the soap “Days of our Lives”, where Will, as a “writer”, is behaving aggressively in what he writes and publishes, and promotes it, sometimes in the name of his daughter.  
There’s also the talent premium.  The younger male gay community seems to have a higher-than-predicted portion of “super-stars”, in media and now in the sciences.  (Go here, .  That will also affect the results in the future. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Washington Blade holds 45th Anniversary Party, announces Foundation, recalls first issue, which had dealt even with blackmail

The Washington Blade held its 45th Anniversary party last Thursday Oct. 9 in Washington DC, on 14th Street, to found a Washington Blade Foundation for research on LGBT history and journalism.  The Facebook announcement was here , and a story about the new foundation is here
I was not able to attend because I had pre-purchased Kennedy Center tickets that day.

The print issue of the Blade featured a photocopy of the one page original issue of “The Gay Blade” in October 1969 (while I was in the Army at Ft. Eustis, and sometimes called a “blade” myself).  There was a story asking men to give blood in benefit to Mattachine, and a warning that police were recording license plates of cars parked near gay bars in Washington.  There was advice to call Frank Kameny on issues like blackmail, security clearances, and the military draft.  David Mixner’s book “Stranger Among Friends” had detailed an account where Mixner was “set up” by the FBI back in 1969. 

The Blade went through restructuring in 2009 and 2010 after its parent company, Windows Media, ceased operating.  It first called itself “DC Agenda” until it got back the legal right to use the “Washington Blade” trademark.  

Today, at Mount Olivet Methodist Church in Arlington VA, rev. Ed Walker mentioned the issue of gay equality as an example where moral progress in society depends on a lot more than “the greatest good for the greatest number”.  The church has not been quite as progressive on gay issues as some others until more recently.  
Vox has a story and a map showing in which states getting a same-sex marriage license (a matter of public record) technically can get someone fires, here

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sexual harassment scandal with Gay Republican candidate in Sam Diego spills over into other areas

Some unfortunate behavior and a bitter dispute is driving down the reputation of Gay Republicans – and Log Cabin has been around for years.
The candidate Carl DeMaio, openly gay GOP congressional candidate from San Diego, and former city council member, has been accused of sexual harassment by a campaign staffer, Todd Bosnich, according to a CNN news story by Chris Frates and Scott Zamost, link here

 Todd’s story becomes a bit lurid, and leads to a burglary of the campaign office, which Todd denies any connection with and which San Diego Police Department is so far silent on.

Other sources at the campaign say that Bosnich had plagiarized to produce campaign materials (San Diego source ) by taking material from the National Journal. 
It's all a shame.  The GOP could use some strong GLBT candidates who might bring understanding on social issues and perhaps some sensible moderation in issues like health insurance, national debt, immigration, and foreign and military policy. 
There's a very tangential story about a high school in New Jersey which cancelled its football season after some senior football players were reported assaulting freshmen as part of a hazing or initiation ritual.  The attacks, while sexual, were not about relationships or pleasure, but about establishing domination and social control.   Prosecutions might be possible.  Update:  CNN reports arrests of several of the high school students here.  
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of San Diego from Navy fighter. My last visits were in May 2012 and in Feb. 2002.  Second picture is the "bar" area on University Blvd, 2012 visit.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Ted Cruz introduces "Son of DOMA", proposes constitutional amendment turning marriage back to the states

There were rumors Thursday that Texas Senator Ted Cruz, well known for his intransigence on government shutdowns and even the debt ceiling back in 2013, wants to reintroduce a federal constitutional amendment limiting marriage to one man and one woman.  I even jumped on this as “hot air” and tweeted an inaccurate comparison to Rick Santorum’s silly attempt to take the time in the Senate on his matter in the summer of 2004, right on C-Span (with a Bruckner symphony playing in the intermissions) when Diane Feinstein protested that we hadn’t even gotten the anti-terrorism bill done.
But Cruz is playing it a little smarter.  He wants to pass a law, S 2024, “to protect the authority of state legislatures to define marriage”.  He says he will introduce a constitutional amendment in 2015 “to prevent the federal government or courts from striking down state marriage laws”, according to a story on “hot air”, here.
The Senate bill is called the “State Marriage Defense Act of 2014”, link here.  It’s been around since February 2014 but gotten little attention. 

This would be narrower than DOMA, as overturned by the Supreme Court.  It still allows states to vary in the way they handle same-sex marriage and unions, an idea that was viewed as progressive in the 1990s (and I even proposed it myself, as a constitutional amendment, in my DADT-1 book in 1997).   Some observers think that the legislatures of many states would, through political pressure (or provisions in their own state constitutions) legalize gay marriage if left to themselves. (Not to mention that it would take years for an amendment like this to pass, if it ever did.)  But most states in the South, and some states in the West (as with Mormon influence) would not.   Many, however, see this as a libertarian solution, and it was quite credible fifteen years ago, about the time I moved to Minneapolis and interacted with the Libertarian Party of Minnesota and gave my talks at Hamline and the University of Minnesota.  
HRC had sent out a tweet and text yesterday that seemed like arm-twisting and was more than a little but misleading, link here.
Media sources also report today that legally married same-sex couples can now adopt children in Virginia.  

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Brit jailed in Morocco after accusation of gay "sex tourism"; why did authorities look at his cell phone?

NBC News has reported a disturbing arrest and jailing (for 20 days) in Morocco of British tourist Ray Cole, 69, for “being gay”, story here. ITV News reported that he was imprisoned for 4 months (120 days?) in this story
He was visiting Marrakech with a Moroccan friend, Jamal Jam Wald Nass, 20, who is still in jail.  A photo of them was found on Cole’s phone, and used as “evidence of homosexual acts”.  It isn’t clear why their phone was searched, or if it could have been hacked.   Authorities deemed he was a “sex tourist”.  BBC has a story here
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, though, Morocco had an informal reputation as a "gay destination". 
Wikipedia attribution link for desert picture from Morocco 

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Supreme Court puts hold on gay marriages in Idaho (and Nevada)

In a real "October surprise" Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court placed a stay on same-sex marriages in Idaho and apparently Nevada, after the Ninth Circuit had struck down the gay marriage bans in those states.  Only Idaho had asked for a stay. USA Today has a story link here. Apparently the Court is saying, "we won't tell yet, but you can still ask".  Gay marriage processing in all the other states mentioned yesterday seems unaffected.    

Monday, October 06, 2014

Supreme Court declines to hear same-sex marriage until there is a conflicting appeals court ruling (and it's no "surprise")

The Supreme Court has refused to grant cert on same-sex marriage appeals from opponents this morning. 
That means that in five states where appeals courts have backed lower court rulings but for which the appeal was intended, stays are lifted and same sex marriage can move forward. These states are Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana.  Of these, only Wisconsin wouldn’t be viewed as socially conservative.  In Utah, as I noted yesterday, the Mormon Church is pretty much shutting up on the issue, and Mormon families in the last few years have generally started to become more accepting of their gay kids.
Vox Media reports that the “non ruling” also means that same-sex marriages can go forward in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming (site of Mathew Shepard’s tragedy in 1998), link here.

However, the Sixth Circuit still might uphold a marriage ban, opening the door for a Supreme Court challenge in 2015-2016. CNN refers to this story as a "same-sex marriage surprise", but legally it sounds quite predictable.  

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Northern Virginia Pride

The Northern Virginia Pride Festival took place today at the Bull Run Special Events Center, off I-66, slightly east of Manassas, VA (basic link here ) .
The wide open space had booths from Fairfax County fire and rescue, and a helicopter demonstration.  It was as recently as the early 1990s that the Fairfax County Police Department tried to exclude homosexual cops because of Virginia’s “Crimes Against Nature” laws at the time, not overturned until 2003 with Lawrence v. Texas.

There was a booth and tent demo from Adventuring, the DC Outdoor group with which I was active in the 1990s. (In Minneapolis the corresponding group is Outwoods.)

There was a booth from Gay Mormons, and they report that the attitude within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has tempered considerably in the past ten years.

As I approached the festival, I could hear the pops from a gun range nearby, as if to suggest Pink Pistols.

After the event, as I drove in Manassas, I passed an anti-abortion demonstration where the sign read “dads for life” and “fatherhood begins at conception”.  What about someone who has never caused a conception?

I also passed a “Primitive Baptist Church” on a country road near the festival ground.

Last night, at Town Danceboutique, the drag queens tried to cast a spell to help the Nationals score in an extra-inning game, but the Nats lost the six-hour game, 2-1, to go two games in the hole in the NCLS series.  

Friday, October 03, 2014

Russia suspends student exchange program after one student stays with gay couple and apparently files as refugee

The Washington Post, in a story by Karoun Demirjian on p. A8 Friday, reports that Russia has suspended its student exchange program with the U.S., because “official cites decision by participant to stay with same-sex couple,” link here.   However, the story also reports that the participant had applied through Michigan courts to stay as a refugee. 
It’s apparent that the idea of taking in refugees, sometimes discussed here, is very double-edged (story here Sept. 29). 
I’ve actually met Russian exchange students once, at a Bank of America branch in Arlington.   

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Brazilian presidential candidate makes anti-gay comments based on lack of reproduction

A Brazilian presidential candidate, Levy Fidelix, has sparked anger over anti-gay remarks, made under cover of equal time and access. Adriana Gomez Licon has an Associated Press story in Huffington, link here. One of the crudist statements suggested that gay people should be sent “very far away from us” for “psychological help” because gay sex doesn’t lead to reproduction.  That reminds us of statements from other countries, such as a Ugandan president’s statement that something had to be wrong with men not who were not attracted to the country’s “so many beautiful women”, and Putin’s insinuation that gays exacerbate Russia’s low birth rate. 
With many people, in some parts of the world, it is definitely about the lack of procreation,.