Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How to explain "Gay Republicans": A Post columnist has a good answer


Steven Petrow, in a column in the Washington Post Style page called “Civilities”, answers a question “How to tell friends that you are gay and Republican”, link here.

The best part of his answer shows that conservatism can be consistent with gay equality, even demand it, as Andrew Sullivan often points out.  Petrow discusses Ted Olson, the attorney who won “Bush v Gore” for George W. Bush, but argued the conservative case for striking down California’s Proposition 8.
  
Wash Westmoreland made a TV film “Gay Republicans” in 2004 (available on Netflix), examining Log Cabin Republicans. 

My own first book is, after all, titled “Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back”, although a harsh reviewer on Amazon said I wasn’t either conservative or libertarian.

Let’s point out, too, the past of Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty (GLIL), not as active as it was in the 1990s.  (The webpage doesn’t work right now.)  In the 1990s, the connection “gay and libertarian” took hold, but weakened after 9/11 and after the idea that promoting marriage was promoting government-endorsed privileges took hold.  Libertarians have sometimes opposed ENDA.

Picture: An author’s booth (Jenise Brown, “Down Low Sister on Top:  Celebrating the Afrcian American Bisexual Woman”) from LGBT Virginia Pride in Richmond on Saturday. 


Monday, September 29, 2014

More news stories on LGBT asylum (especially from Russia) appear; will there ever be a "sponorship" issue?


The Washington Blade is running a series of stories of LGBT people seeking political asylum in the United States.  On Sept. 26, it ran a story about Andrew Nasonov, who was kidnapped by “police” after attending a demonstration in Voronezh, Russia.  The story by Michael K. Lavers here. The story has a photo of a sign, “Ask me why in Russia they want to kill me”.  Nasonov arrived with his boyfriend July 2. 

On August 6, Lavers had reported asylum granted for a doctor, George Budny.  The former manager of the now closed Moscow gay disco the Central Station, Arkady Gyngazov, was reported to be seeking asylum in January.  And US Citizenship and Immigration Services granted asylum to Ugandan activist, John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere, as demonstrated by this letter.  
     
USCIS explains the requirements in its explanation of Form I-589, linked from this page.  Asylum can be sought based on persecution, either by government or by inability or disinclination of government to control criminal activity (as in Russia), based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a social group (which would logically include LGBT).  USCIS has an important other page, called “Benefits and Responsibilities of Asylees” which has information about green cards, work, and financial assistance, here.   USCIS does not appear to imply that asylum (getting it or staying in the country) would depend on securing financial support or housing from others first.  Organizations have been formed in some cities, like Chicago, to provide such support, however. 


Spectrum HR has a “40 in 14” page with individual stories here. There is an LGBT Asylum Support Task Force, which seems to sponsor fund raisers, here
  
As I’ve written here before, in 1980 there was a period where some LGBT Cuban refugees came into the US by boat, and there was considerable pressure within the LGBT community in some southern states (including Dallas, TX, where I lived at the time) to provide housing for them.  This led to the founding of a shelter called “Safe Place” for a while in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas.   That sort of call has not become evident to my knowledge this time however, despite asylum requests from Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, and other authoritarian or backward countries.
  
The biggest concern would occur if situations were to arise where refugees were to be returned to dangerous circumstances if sponsors who could house or support them weren’t found.   That notion might have occurred with the child migrant crisis from Central America, too, but it has calmed down and the Obama Administration has discouraged that sort of interpretation since it could lead to more illegal migration.
   
I have not read or heard anywhere that this kind of situation has developed, as it apparently had in 1980.  For example, I am in a “house” and am retired: should I step up and do anything?  This is much harder to do than it sounds – and maybe dangerous and double-edged for various reasons – so then it becomes as matter of heart and interest, perhaps.  Certainly, some of the pressure on me over some past years to drop “amateur journalism” and learn to hock services (like selling life insurance or preparing taxes, in retirement) anticipates the idea of being capable (in retirement) of stepping up to accept dependents to respond to a crisis like this.  But I really don’t know if there is a crisis that ‘ordinary people” or some possible means must respond to. 
   

Constructive comments and definitive information are welcome. 
  
Picture: Virginia Pride, Saturday  Sept. 27

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Virginia Pride in Richmond, on Brown's Island, is relatively simple as gay marriage battle in Supreme Court approaches (and a mathematics lesson at one stage)


Saturday, September 28, 2014, I did visit Virginia Pride, on Brown’s Island in the James River in Richmond Virginia.

I had to park about five blocks away, on 10th Street; you couldn’t park in the Federal Reserve. 
  
The venue was spacious enough, and the event seemed a little larger than one in Charlottesville (that I visited in 2013).  There were several stages.  One of them was for a youth group, which presented a magician whose idea of “The Prestige” was created by a Mobius strip, which will produce odd results based on how many times you fold the strip before putting the ends together. 

Lambda Legal, Equality Virginia, HRC, faith groups and several HIV groups had booths;  so did Blue Cross Blue Shield and many corporations.  One book author (Jenise Brown) had a booth. 
 

I guess a demonstration actually based on mathematics (topology) is a good thing. I've done it in my own model layout (second picture above). 


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Daughter of police chief implicated in attack on gay couple in Philadelphia; more debate on hate crimes laws


The daughter of a police chief is one of the people arrested for a beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia.  The case was tracked down by “amateur sleuths” using social media (especially Twitter), according to the ABC News story here
   
There is controversy over whether the trio should be charged for a hate crime.  A discussion on CNN Saturday morning indicated that a technicality caused the Pennsylvania state laws regarding LGBT-related hate crimes to be struck down because the law had not gone through the judiciary committee.  Smerconish played devil’s advocate with the idea of hate crimes laws, as he asked if the punishment for an attack on a straight couple should be any less.  That's the libertarian argument.   

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Southern Baptist Convention kicks out churches that seek a "middle ground" on homosexuality


Think Progress is reporting that the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention has kicked out the New Heart Community Church of La Mirada, CA (in the Los Angeles area) for allowing an ambiguous position on homosexuality, link here
   

The Think Progress article showed the completed new Southern Baptist Convention headquarters in downtown Dallas, near First Baptist Church where Wally Amos Criswell as pastor when I lived in Dallas in the 1980s.  Criswell preached an anti-gay sermon on a Sunday night in 1980, well before the AIDS epidemic was known.  When my parents visited me in Dallas in April 1979 (I had moved there in January) my father wanted to attend a service there.  Criswell gave a 40-minute sermon.

At New Heart, Danny Cortez had preached a sermon, “Why I changed my mind on homosexuality”.  Much of it has to do with his son. 


The SBC also kicked out a church in Fort Worth, TX and has done so with a few other congregations. 

Albert Mohler of SBC wrote a blog post where he sees homosexuality as an issue where there is no middle ground, no "third way".  It’s a “binary issue”.  It’s like an exam question where there is no part-credit.  But he gives no reason for why he thinks the Bible would maintain that it is wrong, or why he interprets certain passages the way does.  It’s a very curious position from a protestant denomination long known for enhancing the value of individual conscience. 

I grew up in the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC at 16th and O Sts NW, less than a mile from the White House.  Jimmy Carter sometimes taught Sunday School there.  FBC is affiliated with both Southern and American Baptist Conventions (it may be the only such church, or may have been in the past.) Dr. Edward Pruden (raised in Richmond VA) was pastor from the 1940s until the late 1960s.  He was known for progressive sermons on race in the early 1950s, even before the new building. He preached some notable sermons on why a Christian Germany allowed Nazism to grow and even a Holocaust to happen.  In more recent years, pastors have often not stayed long because the congregation tends to become split on many issues (leading to internal issues), but has gradually become more liberal on many other social issues as the world around it, especially the Dupont Circle neighborhood, changes.
    


I’ve always gotten the impression that so much of this is about procreation, or its lack.  Somehow, many people feel that if homosexual relations are seen as morally legitimate, sexual relations in traditional heterosexual marriage (with a model of procreation) will gradually engender less passion.  This sounds so much like relativity, where the observer affects what he sees.  

First four pictures: Dallas, TX, my visit, Nov. 2011

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eagle seems on track to re-open in NE Washington; I take an auto tour of the area


I made a little “field trip” to the site of the new “Eagle” on Benning Road, NE in Washington DC after church today.
  
The Washington Blade this weekend has good news, that the DC Liquor Board has ruled in favor of the Eagle and against the shopping center opposing the license, story here. But a drive-through of the area shows that the “real problem” has little to do with the idea of a gay bar in the area or alcohol itself.  It has everything to do with gentrification and real estate development in the area, which is slowly driving the poor people out.
  
I got lost driving there.  I took Florida Ave. down and didn’t realize that H Street NE becomes Benning Road.  I wound up going through other areas of NE.  The crime reports in the media are horrific, but the area looks a lot better than it used to. 
  
But people walk across the street, deliberately challenging cars to stop.  The people look ragtag and often overweight and in poor health.  The area is a mixture of old industry, pawn shops, and then clusters of nice new townhomes just down Minnesota Ave, and a new high rise office or condo building near the site of the bar.  The area is definitely changing. Prices will go up, and tensions will increase. I did see a variety of community activities.  I passed what looked like a Fire Dept. sponsored youth gathering in a nearby park. 
  
When the bar-disco opens (still not sure of the date), Metro Transit Police will have to beef up security at the nearby Minensota Ave (Orange) and Benning Rd and Capitol Heights Stations (Blue and Silver).  DC Police will need to patrol the blocks between the stations and the place.  There seems to be a lot of parking behind the buildings, but it will need security, which means it will need to charge fees.  The actual building seems impossible to see from Benning Road (due to the complexity of the bridge and intersection with I-295) but I think you can see the building from Dix Street, which leads to the shopping center and various parking lots. In general, I'm reminded of the area around The Gold Coast in Detroit (covered Aug. 7, 2012). 
   
I look forward to the place.  But it can work only if the neighborhood around it improves and is kept secure enough.  This area of Washington DC is changing rapidly. 
  
One interesting possibility is that the Olympics comes to DC in a years and that RFK Stadium, not far away, is rebuilt.  Imagine the real estate development then.

Other clubs in DC curiously haven't announced their October events yet -- yet Halloween and High Heels are coming soon.
  
Last picture:  New street cars on Benning Road, coming soon.

Note, also.  There is a "Stonewall Kitchen" at National Harbor.

Friday, September 19, 2014

New York Times provides state-by-state details on surrogacy


The New York Times has a major front page article on surrogacy by Tamar Lewin, here  along with a state-by-state table on surrogacy laws today (particularly on whether surrogacy contracts are enforceable).   At least one state, Illinois, allows only “gestational surrogacy”, with other restrictions to prevent “designer babies”. 
  
The article will be of interest to same-sex couples (especially male) considering children by surrogacy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rehoboth stays active after Labor Day, with free parking


As for the old 1970s question, “are gay resorts really gay?”, I can certainly say that they can stay busy after Labor Day.

At Rehoboth Beach, DE, free street parking started Monday (after the first two weekends in September), and on a Wednesday (a warm clear day with low humidity) the town was packed.  The lunch places were busy too, as most places were celebrating he idea that both the Nationals and Orioles had clinched titles last night, within an hour of one another. 

You can actually park near the Queen Street beach now, but it had only a smaller gathering of people. 

You can see the Convention Center, which has held big dances before, the shopping arcade (where Lambda Rising used to live), and even the old location of MCC within a couple of blocks.  There is a volunteer fire department, a touch a small town America and a throwback to older days of gender roles.


Saw someone I recognized biking on the new Fenwick Bridge on Route 1.  
On the way back, I found an Annie's restaurant on Kent Island.  There is an Annie's in Washington on 17th St, near JR's.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lawyers say that Facebook's "real names" policy works to the detriment of some in the gay community, especially transgender and drag queen performers


Electronic Frontier Foundation has an interesting and disturbing perspective on how Facebook’s “real names only” can work to the detriment of some people in the LGBTQ community, especially transgender, or those in low-income areas, or in non-western communities overseas, with the link here. The article is by Nadaia Kayyali and Jillian York.  Slate, in fact, had an article, “Is Facebook cracking down on drag names?” (which for performers are usually pseudonyms), here

Google Plus is reported to have ended the “real names” policy altogether.
  
Facebook says that “real names” keeps the community safer, but that works both ways.  People can use pseudonyms for non-real names for fan pages, which offer much restricted capabilities. Mark Zuckerberg has been reported to say that he feels that pseudonyms show a lack of integrity -- but many writers have used them for centuries.  Look at female novelists in Britain!

Supposedly, the trans community was to demonstrate today at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto. 

   

It's important to realize that not many drag queens are not transgendered, and that many transvestites are actually straight, and want to diminish the cultural  importance of visual images of sexual conformity.
 
Fifteen years ago, even my own mother was nervous at one time that I was writing about gays in the military under my own name, possibly inciting violence or indignant attacks or bringing it upon myself or others connected to me.  I have often said that I cannot live with that kind of “Mafia” thinking.  Of course, my parents grew up in a world where a lot of people did think that way, and I respect that now. That goes on in other parts of the world, though, as EFF points out – and Facebook’s policy talks about the effect on the Arab Spring. Needing anonymity (de facto “witness protection”) --  that’s the stuff of soap operas (although “Days of our Lives” really turned around 180 degrees on open homosexuality and gay marriage in the past two years).  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In Washington, Eagle still faces opposition to liquor license despite renovating new property, illustrating a troubling trend


The Washington Blade, in a story by Lou Chibbaro, Jr., is reporting that a shopping center near the new location of the DC Eagle is still trying to oppose its liquor license application, as time for its re-opening approaches.  The story is here. The bar’s owners paid a little under $1 million for the building and would hardly have made the purchase if they did not expect approval.  The article explains the very ambitious plans for the bar on Benning Road NE. The land could be valuable just as investment.  This is an area of town undergoing “gentrification” and rapid rise in real estate values, most of all centered on the new H Street NE corridor with the new streetcar line. 

Clubs in Washington DC often face difficulties in finding new properties where liquor licenses will be approved, if they lose existing leases.  Remingtons, the Country-western bar has not re-opened.  TownDC has been holding early evening parties for “Bears” and country western since the Eagle and Remingtons closed.  In general, liquor licenses have been more controversial in recent years as much of Washington has become much more “residential” with high-rent or high-priced apartments and townhouses.

I will try to visit the area in the daytime in the reasonably near future and form my own conclusions and report again.  Oh, it’s hard to make time.
  
I noticed that the midnight “Rocky Picture Horror Show” at Landmark E St on Saturday night rather makes it into a sort of “gay hour”.  There is no “gay bar” now (with the Eagle gone) as such in the immediate downtown area, even though the Blade has held events at Hard Rock before, and SLDN and HRC hold events at the nearby Convention Center.
  

The Nationals had a “night out” on June 17.  The Nats may well he headed for the World Series this year.  But it is pro football where the acceptance of an openly gay player (now trying with the Cowboys) has gotten the most attention.   

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Low income senior housing gets more attention as an issue; another story on a building in Philadelphia


An apartment house in Philadelphia may provide a model for housing low-income LGBT seniors, according to Emily Wax-Thibodeaux in the Washington Post Saturday morning, link here.  The facility is the John C. Anderson apartments.  There is a waiting list.  I see that the New York Times had reported on this property March 14.
   
LGBT seniors still report discrimination, sometimes in Florida, especially in other southern states.

One of my own best living experiences was in the Churchill Apartments in downtown Minneapolis from 1997-2003.  This was pricey by Midwestern standards, but a little less expensive than the same kind of building in the DC area (about 20% less).  There were a number of handicapped people and there were apartments set aside for senior housing (Bridge Street) and companies (even movie studios), but the building as a whole was general population.  There were graduate students (the U of M was a mile away) and pretty clearly some LGBT.  It was on the Skyway and close to the social life on Hennepin.  It was close to most employers downtown by walk.  I prefer places with mixed populations, not specialized ones.    

Friday, September 12, 2014

North Carolina "libertarian" rep compares gay rights to smokers'


Here’s a story that sounds like a distortion of libertarianism, taken literally. Rep Robert Pittenger (R-NC) compare the “right” to fire gay people from a private business to the right to smoke cigarettes outside or in a private home.  The Think Progress story is here.   I guess his kind of argument cuts both ways.  But back in the 90s, GLIL opposed anti-discrimination laws against private businesses on libertarian grounds (sometimes sounding awkward, as withj one 1996 press release) and supported the Boy Scouts position in the Supreme Court, but insisted that the BSA should get no public funds anyway.  Oh, I remember when I was in the Army, the officers were expected to work with the BSA. 

Let the life companies continue to charge the smokers higher rates. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gay equality is now pursued deep within the Bible Belt


The Washington Post reports on 9/11 that gay rights advocates have turned attention to the Bible Belt  -- the South – as most gay marriage lawsuits against states so far wind up as wins.  Sandhya Somashekhar has a front page story in the paper today here . The focus is on Mississippi, and the emphasis is on countering anti-gay bullying and on countering discrimination, particularly in rural areas or in businesses heavily influenced by fundamentalism.  There is still a belief in “the gay agenda” in the area, and the gay community continues to rely on The Immutability Argument, to keep it simple. 
   
I lived in Dallas, TX from 1979-1988 and found the climate to be improving.  But in 1980, there were a few police raids on gay bars and false charges for public lewdness, which stopped when one defendant, a computer operator, was acquitted by a judge who saw what was going on, after pressure from the Dallas Gay Alliance.  (I sat in another trial by a judge who did convict him;  I would later serve as a jury foreman on a case before the same judge, who actually seemed to respect me; maybe he learned. Judges are elected in Texas.)  It was in Dallas that the first anti-sodomy lawsuit was won (Baker v. Wade, 1982).  But Texas had to deal with the Dallas Doctors Against AIDS and fend off an attempt to strengthen the sodomy law in 1983, in response to AIDS, with military-style bans in most occupations.  It would be Lawrence v. Texas that would finally end sodomy laws in 2003.
   

I visited Alabama and Mississippi (and Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky) in May of this year.  I stayed in Tupelo and looked at tornado damage.  I found Alabama particularly to be very backward, but I visited the Pettus Bridge in Selma.  

Monday, September 08, 2014

Anti-gay group supporting large families skirts sanctions against Russia


Mother Jones, in a piece by Hannah Levintova, reports (on Mon. Sept. 8, 2014) about an anti-gay gathering in Moscow which would appear to have skirted the legal requirements associated with recent US and EU sanctions against Russia due to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. The link is here
   
The conference was to be called “Large Families: The Future of Humanity”, which originally included “Every Child a Gift” in the title. 
  
The culture of this group certainly resents the idea of adults who focus on their own personal economic or expressive productivity (or “creativity”) and are not willing to risk taking a back seat to raise children in a more collective environment.  

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Town DC draws Nats fans away from baseball game, leaving Nationals to blow game after they leave


A few guys left the baseball game at Nationals Park on Friday night when the Nationals had a 7-2 lead over the Phillies and came to the Town Danceboutique early enough (on "18-21 night") to get in before the cover goes up, and to see the entire show.  They regretted it when the Nats relievers blew the game and the Nats lost in 11 innings, as I showed them on my iPhone.  The Nats needed them in the stands. Last year, the Nats won a game, 2-1, from the Marlins on "gay night".

No, Washington Post, the Phillies are not "pests" like drain flies. The Nats should not count on their divisional title yet.

Saturday, Karaoke went on at Freddies as usual.  I sang "Save Me" from Smallville (Remy Zero) one time with karaoke in Baltimore.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Federal judge in Louisiana breaks "win streak" on gay marriage with old-fashioned arguments; a win in the 7th Circuit


There’s a lot of outrage on the web over the first “loss” in the state gay marriage battles at the federal district court level, as district judge Martin Feldman upheld Louisiana’s “ban” yesterday.  This was the first “defeat” after a winning streak.  Sounds like baseball, doesn’t it. 
  
The Huffington Post has a column by Paige Lavender here.  She starts out by challenging Feldman’s assertion that being gay is a “choice”. She also challenges Feldman’s historical contention that gay marriage had been “inconceivable” until recently.
  
Ian Millhiser has a similar story on Think Progress, link here.  The judge also challenged the idea that marriage is a “fundamental right” outside the idea of marrying a consenting partner of the opposite sex when a procreative event is possible.  We’ve heard all this before.  At the very least, marriage is possible with opposite sex couples where both partners are sterile or where the female is past menopause.
  
In Chapter 5 of my first “DADT” book, I had proposed that a relationship could be recognized when it supports a dependent, which could include an unborn child.  It’s the actual presence (not just the potentiality) of children or legitimate dependents that seemed related to social responsibility and common good, it seemed.  


Update: Later Thursday

Seventh Circuit rejects gay marriage bans in Wisconsin, Indiana.  Lambda Legal has copy of opinion here

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

East Coast gay beach resorts don't die after Labor Day


Well, with all the hot stormy weather and other destinations (like Harpers Ferry), I haven’t reached Rehoboth this “late summer” season yet.  But the Blade had a big story on the an event at the Convention Center, here.  Over the years, Rehoboth has had a lot of battles over clubs and noise, traffic, and parking.  It's not without problems.
   
In 1997, I stayed overnight at an Econo Lodge in Dover on a Saturday, and had to endure traffic jams on the coast highway to get down to a dance there July 4 weekend.  I’m not connected socially enough to get into some long term house rental, and it wouldn’t make sense in my own life.  
  
I’ve only been to Provincetown MA once, over Labor Day weekend in 1976, with a friend.  I was living in NYC then.   Provincetown is a chore to get to, unless you’re going to stay there a while, and are socially connected.  I recall visiting a T-dance at the Boatslip.  “T-dances” don’t seem to be as popular today.  I stayed that night with the friends at someone’s house in Duxbury, and then we went to Mount Washington for Labor Day itself. 
  
Same thing about Fire Island.  I never stayed over night.  But I went on weekend days on the LIRR many times.  You took a ferry to Fire Island Pines, and typically walked one mile to Cherry Grove. 
  
I can recall back in 1973, after “my second coming”, on a visit to New York City from New Jersey, going to the “West Side Discussion Group”, and there was a topic, “are gay results really gay?”  That was the early 1970s. 
  
Past experience is that Rehoboth is still pretty active on warm, dry days – even during the week – for a while after Labor Day, well into October.  Parking is easier at Ocean City than at Rehoboth nearly always, in my experience   There’s still time this year.  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Blade columnist names a couple of female GOP politicians as "evil"


Peter Rosenstein has a biting column in the Washington Blade this week, “What does evil do when it retires?”  That’s specifically about congresswoman Michele Bachman (R-MN), as in the link here.  There’s all the hype about the connections in her family to reparative therapy, and I heard a lot about her from friends in Minneapolis on a return visit in June 2011.  But her worst deeds were her irresponsible behavior and taunts against Barack Obama during the debt ceiling crisis in the summer of 2011, and then again in the fall of 2013, where it was complicated by a government shutdown.  We can’t afford such foolishness now, with real enemies abroad.  
  
The article also mentions Sarah Palin, McCain’s running mate in 2008, but her problem was more that she didn’t know anything, as in the HBO movie “Game Change” (Movies blog, March 11, 2012).