Wednesday, December 30, 2015

University of Kansas press publishes a history of Hoover's War on Gays

This evening, at a Barnes and Noble store at Tysons mall in Fairfax County, VA, I found a book by Douglas M. Charles, "Hoover’s War on Gays: Exposing the FBI’s ‘Sex Deviates’ Program", published by the University of Kansas Press in 2015.

The hardcover, at over 450 pages, is rather pricey ($30) and it will take some time before I can read it and review it on the Books blog.  But the prologue of the book explains that gay history probably has not accounted for the way the FBI was influenced by an intense animus towards homosexuals that did not start to loosen until the late 1960s, and then gradually.  The first chapter, “Was J. Edgar Hoover gay? Does it matter?” explains that there was not much attention to homosexuality at all until the late 19th century. The industrial revolution enabled people to congregate in cities, and for social polarization to develop.  But the degree of animus to a rational person today seems inexplicable, but part of the problems is the idea of living in a “zero sum game” world.  Another concept mentioned early is “essentialism”.  The Leopold and Loeb case in Chicago in the early 1920s may have contributed to hysteria (the play “Never the Sinner” by John Logan, which I saw in Minneapolis in early 2001.

The KU source is interesting;  I earned a MA in math from KU in 1968, right before going into the Army.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Obituary for Robert Spitzer recalls the history of the APA's dropping of homosexuality as a mental illness way back in 1973

The Washington Post printed an obituary (by Amy Argetsinger) for Robert Spitzer, 83, who passed away Christmas Day, and who had a transformative role in getting the American Psychiatric Associations’ dropping of homosexuality per se from the DSM as a mental illness.

The story of his involvement is checkered and complicated, as he at times expressed the personal belief that maybe it is an illness, and even participated in studies of “cure” which he later retracted.
There’s even more detail of the 1973 event in a 2002 story in “This American Life” by Ira Glass.

There is a lot of discussion of the work of Charles Socarides and Irving Bieber, whom I would read about intermittently over the decades. I recall seeing an article by Bieber in 1971, when I was in the middle of a workplace security clearance investigation, claiming that public acceptance of homosexuality would be divisive or disruptive to heterosexual society.  That reminds me of George Gilder’s idea of a “sexual constitution for our society” that reinforces the meaning and therefore the personal experience of marital (and procreative) sex.   The idea of “illness” could be tied to a view of reproduction as a basic biological requirement.

The idea of homosexuality as “illness” certainly weighed on my “being asked to leave” William and Mary in the fall of 1961, and my inpatient treatment at NIH in the latter part of 1962. Writer Tom Baker had a similar experience in 1963 but would actually graduate from WM, but has written and spoken about the College’s view of the “mental illness” model even more than perhaps I have.

In 1978, I asked a lawyer about the whole security clearance issue, and his response was, “it’s what’s in your mind”.  It stayed that way until 1995.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Gay characters start getting "powers" in superhero fiction

George Gene Gustines has an interesting piece in the Styles section of the New York Times on Thursday, “Coming out as gay superheroes”, called “diversity comes to superheroes” in print.

I could add a couple of observations.  A few months ago, someone made openly gay science fair winner Jack Andraka  into a comic book character on Twitter, as “N[anoman”, as part of Jack’s idea for using nanobots to cure cancer. He was portrayed as inside a space suit, somewhat like Matt Damon in “The Martian” (or perhaps the 60s movie "Fantastic Voyage").

And then there is actor Timo Descamps, who played a lovable bad boy Shane Lyons in “Judas Kiss” (Movies, June 4, 2011), but then comes back as a near superhero in the short “Lost Angel” (Movies, March 27, 2014), and the mystery feature “The Dark Place” (Dec. 2, 2014) where both he and his lover played by Blaise Embry aka Blaise Godbe Lipman seem to have unusual “powers” to outwit opponents.
Of course, the hypothetical idea of "super strength" or superpowers had become a metaphor for old forms of homophobia by the time I went to William and Mary in 1961.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Kentucky governor ends Kim Davis saga with simple executive order

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (Republican) has issued an executive order saying that a county clerk’s name need no longer appear on a marriage license.

This would allow sex-same marriages in Kentucky to continue without complication.

The issue has had potentially serious conflict-of-interest issues for people in certain kinds of jobs where their personal names are applied to actions with political policy ramifications.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

First openly gay female US military officer to be killed in combat is honored

The first openly gay female US military officer to be killed in combat, USAF Major Adrianna Vorderbruggen, was honored tonight on NBC Nightly News.

She was one of six troops killed by a drive-by suicide bomber on a motorcycle in Afghanistan, the worst attack in 18 months.  The incident occurred one year shy of passing the law (in December 2010) that would mark the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.

She is survived by her wife (since June 2012), Heather, and a son Jacob. The Daily Beast has a detailed story here.

Her spouse will get full benefits

Monday, December 21, 2015

FDA officially loosens ban on MSM donating blood

As expected, the FDA has formally loosened the rule on blood donations from MSM (men who have sex with men), allowing donations from men who test negative on all standard antigen and antibody tests and who will affirm they have not had sex with other males within the past twelve months.

Beth Mole has a typical story on Ars Technica here today.  The FDA sounds open to narrowing the abstinence period in the future if warranted by data.  Vox has some more details on the science here, and quotes the Fenway Institute. In general, the science doesn't support a deferral period for more than two months.
The blunt practical result will be that elderly gay men not in relationships will often be able to give blood, since they usually aren’t sought as sexual partners.
Since I had my Medicare physical recently, I can certainly look into this.
It's an unpleasant observation, but in Russia the idea that there is a more obligation to make your blood available to others has been articulated, and it adds to the anti-gay attitudes of the population.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The United States banned gays from immigration not so long ago

Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade has an attention-getting headline on the December 18, 2015 issue, “Remember when U.S. banned gays?”  The article is in response to the press coverage of Donald Trump’s bombastic proposals to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., after the Paris and San Bernadino attacks.

The article, "Trumps anti-Muslim ban recalls restrictions on gay, HIV-positive people", was posted online Dec 13.

The article discusses a 1952 law signed by President Truman, the “Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952” (The McCarran-Walter Act), which had excluded those with a “psychopathic personality”. That might have been an improvement over the Immigration Act of 1917, which had banned gay people. The Senate had decided in 1952 that the language was inclusive enough that homosexuality need not be mentioned.

Johnson discusses the case of Clive Michael Bouilier in the 1960s, a Canadian national.  His apparent admissions of “sodomy” figured into the case. In 1967, the Supreme Court decided that the 1952 law was broad enough to exclude him.

The explicit ban, although not much enforced, would not be repealed until 1990, under the George H. W. Bush administration (during the first Persion Guf War.  Johnson also discusses the HIV travel ban.

I really should have covered this important history in my first (1997) “Do Ask Do Tell” book, inasmuch as it bears on the history of sodomy laws, as well as the past bans of gays in the military.  But the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy did not come into being until 1993, after the ban on gay immigration ended.  I’ll cover this in some detail soon on my Wordpress DADT Notes blog.

This history is important as the nation faces immigration controversy not only for Middle-East refugees, but LGBT refugees from Russia and some African countries, seeking asylum, which has gone on quietly but attracted little public debate so far.  In 1980 there was a real issue with Cuban refugees, for which personal sponsors were sought (which hasn't happened this time much because of the bigger political climate).

As for Donald Trump, he has opposed gay marriage, but he had openly gay candidates on his "The Apprentice" NBC reality show living comfortably with others in his hotel suites during contests.  In one case, he acknowledged the discrimination one particular male candidate might have faced.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A note about "equality" v. "stability" and freedom (upcoming HRC video)

Tonight, the Arlington AGLA held a “Jazz” social at Kora’s in Crystal City in Arlington.

I’ll mention that HRC has been asking supporters to submit photos and videos that will support a video on this year’s progress on equality. This time , I don’t have anything “special”.

As I noted on another blog today, the concepts of “equality”, “stability” and “freedom” all create some inherent tensions.  Think of “liberty, equality, fraternity” of the French Revolution.

I don’t work on “equality” for an identifiable group of people by itself as a special goal, because, given my own narrative, I have a lot more to add in the areas of personal autonomy when challenged by external threats or pressures.  Equality wouldn’t mean much to me personally in a ruined world.

On the other hand, equality is important to keep one’s life from becoming someone else’s bargaining chip, and this applies to single people, too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Supreme Court intervenes, may take major visitation rights case for lesbian parent

The Supreme Court stopped a court in Alabama from denying parental visitation rights to a lesbian who had been given adoption in Georgia, and then split off the relationship. It is widely reported in the media, as in this USA Story by Richard Wolf.

But the Supreme Court has yet to decide if it will formally take the appeal of a ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court.

The precedent could have allowed the denial of visitation rights to adoptive (but not necessarily  married) parents after a relationship ends.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

GOP candidates attend "Religious Liberty" conference hosted by vitriolic anti-gay pastor

At least three GOP presidential candidates (Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee) attended a “National Religious Liberties Conference” hosted by a fundamentalist pastor Kevin Swanson, from Colorado, who has reportedly advocated the death penalty for homosexual acts, much as in a lot of the Islamic world.  All three candidates remained silent, and apparently the pastor vented some of his rhetoric.

The Des Moines register has another story.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund emailed the story this morning as part of its fund-raising campaign

Friday, December 11, 2015

The old "gays in the military" phrase from 1993 has been replaced

The number of Muslims in the US military is relatively small, but now the group gets attention that recalls the climate in 1993 when “gays in the military” was greeted by some with political shock. Thomas Gibbons-Neff as a Washington Post story “For Muslims in the U.S. Military, a Different U.S. than the One they Swore to Defend”.  There was the one big incident at Ford Hood in 2009.
As for more local news, AGLA held a Holiday Party (and huge raffle) Tuesday Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington (it’s pretty near the Pentagon) and the owner sported out his “drag show best” with an unusual blazer.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

How would Trump have reacted to AIDS reported in MSM back in the early 1980s?

Donald Trump’s proposal to “ban Muslims” from entering the country (at least temporarily) reminds me of a horrible peril that the gay male community faced in the early 1980s.  This was the time when AIDS cases were mounting (doubling every six months) and the causative agent (HIV) had not been publicly identified.

The far right wing in Texas (I lived in Dallas at the time) had a field trip.  The far right (the ilk of Paul Cameron and Gene Antonio) called for quarantining all gay men, in a few cases, extermination, rather like Hitler.  How you would identify someone in the closet was an unasked question, in this time of “do ask, don’t tell”.

So I can certainly imagine a Trump of the period supporting such a measure with a statement based on speculative theories about harm to the general public.

There was a speculative theory that said that gay men had incubated the AIDS epidemic within their relatively closed populations in the largest cities (New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and later other cities like Dallas, Houston, Chicago) by the mechanics of a “chain letter”, amplifying the amount of virus in existence and giving it a greater probability of mutating into something that could then be spread more easily to the “general population”.  A group called “Dallas Doctors Against AIDS” had promulgated the view.

This “sci-fi horror” scenario would have been much less likely than speculated, because when viruses mutate, they usually don’t change transmission modes (if they did they would probably weaken and turn into something less lethal).  We saw similar fears about Ebola (which is much more transmissible) in 2014 with the quarantine issue.

Nevertheless, in early 1983, the Texas legislature considered (but rejected) strengthening the state’s sodomy law and banning gay men from most occupations (including hospital work and preparing good). This was ten years before the military ban would become a national public controversy with Clinton.

Trump’s proposal, which sounds like “lock up everybody because we are afraid of the few we can’t identify” brings back unpleasant memories, but we need to know our history.

People are afraid of what is “different” and not their own.  Trump is talking like Muslims are extraterrestrial aliens to be feared.  But I have felt I was put in that category in the past. Ironically, last Wednesday seems to have been the worst day for heterosexual family values ever.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Military gender-neutral policies for combat commensurate with ending DADT and transgender ban; larger gay clubs face increasing financial challenges

First, I’ll continue a topic from the last post.  The New York Times has an editorial Sunday regarding the opening of all military combat roles to women, link here.   The idea is that fitness for combat roles will be gender-neutral, and usually most men will meet the criteria more readily than most women.   The Times notes that resistance to the change is related to “sexism”, as we understand cultural addiction to gender roles in the past.  The article compares attitudes toward the role of women, in the unit cohesion context, to past concerns over the role of gay men with “don’t ask don’t tell”.

But Ben Carson, GOP candidate, claimed that the military is not the place for social experimentation, reacting to the recent lifting of the ban on transgender soldiers, NBC News story here. A darker side to his comment was a reference to apparently wanting to go back to the old “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays repealed in 2011.

I’ll change the subject now, and mention that I visited the Grand Central  in Baltimore Saturday night to see how it was doing, giving the closing of the Hippo.  The crowd was smaller than I expected, although I left before midnight.  This was apparently “ladies’ night”, but the Sappho floor on the third floor was not open when I was there.

There are could use a new disco, and there are stories that the Eagle will reopen in 2016.  A Baltimore gay paper also reports that the “Club” in Martinsburg W Va has closed with the property sold to a developer.

In this new world of more mixed culture, it may be harder to justify large clubs unless the properties have other uses during the workweek (or can be used for stage shows, movies, etc)  Large dances may have to rent space in hotels and casinos.
Update: December 14, 2015

Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post writes "Women in combat will put men at greater risk."

Thursday, December 03, 2015

NYTimes op-ed on Scalia reminds us of old-style thinking in past sodomy law litigation

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia tended to echo Vladimir Putin in his thinking about homosexuality, in that he saw no principled difference between “child molesters” and “homosexuals”, as if he were blind to the idea of consent (and the whole idea of age-of-consent laws).  That disturbing point is made by Richard A. Posner and Eric J. Segall in an op-ed, “Scalia’s Majoritarian Theocracy”, Thursday December 3, 2015, on p A35 of the New York Times, link here. The writers are discussing Scalia’s notorious dissent in the 2003 “Lawrence v. Texas” case.
There is discussion of Scalia’s idea that courts cannot overrule majoritarian votes concerning society’s past “moral opprobrium” on apparent homosexual behavior, or the desire of parents to keep the distraction of homosexual values away from their children, or of bosses to keep it away from customers.  None of this seemed rational or copacetic in all the decades that it had ruled legal thought (Bowes v. Hardwick).  It always seemed to me that people believed that if homosexuality were allowed to appear legitimate (as a “choice”), a lot of “marginal” men would decide not to marry and have children, and would not be able to fit into the reserves of supporting other family members with the required tender intimacies when necessary.  That’s certainly behind Russian thinking today.
But with gay marriage (Obergefell), this has been a three-way (not two way) debate on individualism.  It’s possible to argue that everyone should participate in raising kids and in caring for parents (filial responsibility) without concern that everyone experience conventional sexual intercourse capable of procreation.
It's also worthy of note today the media reports that all combat roles have been opened to women in the military. This is certainly going to lead to more objection to those who do not like to see gender bending.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

World AIDS Day: shocking report on rise in cases among young Asian men

Just before World AIDS Day. Alisa Tang released a report on AOL from Thailand that the number of HIV deaths among young men in Asia has doubled in the past ten years.
Still, HIV disease doesn’t come up in ordinary social conversation and among gay men much today in my experience, like it did in the 1980s and into the mid 1990s.  I’m not hearing anecdotal reports of cases in my own circles.
Food and Friends, where I had volunteered a bit in the 1990s when it was located near the Navy Yard, has expanded (with huge, well-orchestrated operations based in NE Washington DC on the holidays and pie sales), but seems to have a client base quite substantially made up of minorities, including many heterosexuals,  with HIV and malignancies from diverse causes (including drug use) other than the male sex. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Wisconsin school yields to pressure group on reading of transgender children's book

The Mount Horeb Area School District in southern Wisconsin cancelled the planned reading of a book about a transgender child (born anatomically male but identifying as female), named “I Am Jazz”, by Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, and Shelagh McNicholas.  It yielded after an out of state group called the “Liberty Counsel” threatened to sue.

A Madison, WI has a story here
The school district seems to be trying to arrange optional sessions.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fundraising campaign for an LGBT homeless shelter in DC

The Washington Blade, in a story by Lou Chibbaro, Jr., reports that a campaign to raise $30000 for a shelter, Casa Ruby, for homeless LGBT youth is about halfway there, Nov. 27, link here.
The fundraising page is here. The page keeps track of the funds raised.
It would be desirable for the group to set up a mailing address and account number for automated  charitable giving from trusts through banks.  This could be made a year-round activity.
The Dallas in the 1980s there was a shelter called simply "Safe Place".

Friday, November 27, 2015

Columnist in DC gay magazine talks about the moral underpinnings of "gay male values"

Christopher Cunetto has a column in Metro Weekly Thursday Nov. 19, “Body Talk” (p. 10), a bit of a moral lecture, link here. Note the subtitle online: "Desire does not equal entitlement".  OK, Dr. Phil will love this piece.
The columnist is comingling two different issues.  First, of course, just because “you” feel attracted to someone, you’re not entitled to any specific level of interaction the person, even with an acknowledgement from the person (vocally, a “glance”, or now online).   That’s a no brainer, and not a problem.  I do think that generally that’s a bigger problem with some male behavior in the heterosexual world, but it spills over.  For me, fantasy can work so well that jealousy is never an issue – but that cuts both ways.

But then he gets into a separate issue (which I just led myself into above), making a mental “moral” assessment” of someone based on “appearances” and predefined expectations (of a schizotypal nature). Men do this to women, and can do it to other men.  This was an underground issue during my days of “inpatient therapy” at NIH way back in 1962.   Although personal values, when not acted on, don’t seem like a moral issue (any more than religious belief or lack thereof should be a moral issue), when an attitude is common in a community and held to be “OK”, it can have a toxic effect on others.  Applied on a bigger scale, you can see why there is so much instability in our society, and how it can impact us unpredictably.  People do need to be able to find willingness for committed intimacy from others, regardless of age, race or “looks”, and that’s not the same thing as “entitlement”.
Picture: Yes, among birds, it’s often the male who gets noticed for his “plumage”.

Monday, November 23, 2015

LGBT community mixed on vote on Syrian refugees, aware that this can affect gays fleeing persecution

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund won’t drop support for three gay or bisexual members of Congress who voted to tighten security vetting requirements for refugees coming from Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East (which of course can include LGBT refugees).  There was a sentiment that the vote is a breach of solidarity, but many in the community were sympathetic to the idea that we can lose everything if we are lax about security.

Chris Johnson has a story in the Washington Blade here.

The issue has indirect implications, because there has been concern about helping potential refugees from Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, and other countries that have passed anti-gay laws since 2013.  The DC Center is working on the problem but (like the Obama administration) has said very little publicly because of the sensitivity of the issue.  Eventually, sponsors would have to be found for some refugees, meaning pressure on individual citizens to become involved in ways that can involve sacrifice and risk.  Resolution of questions like this still seems a long way down the pike.  The Blade has covered the stories of a few refugees in the past.

Picture: selfie, AGLA brunch Saturday morning at Freddie’s.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rubio and Trump make anti-Muslim proposals that mirror anti-gay proposals from the right in the 1980s as AIDS exploded

Both Donald Trump and Marco Rubio are reported to have proposed rather Draconian measures against Muslims in the US in the wake of the Paris attacks, and it might be well to take a moment to remember the rhetoric against gay men back in the 1980s, when I was living in Dallas.

Remember that in April 1984, “they closed the baths in San Francisco” and pretty much everywhere else soon.  (My last visit ever was to The Club Baths in Dallas in March 1983 as I remember.  My first had been in New York City in January 1975.)  “Non-sex” clubs have, of course, popped up in major cities.  (I’ve only been to DC’s Crew Club once, in the mid 1990s.)  But there was also talk of closing all the bars and gay churches, if that could comport with reality.

In fact, a strengthening of the sodomy law (2106), known as “2138” was proposed in 1983, and would have imposed a military-style ban in most occupations.  Very few gay men today (even in the established gay press) seem to remember this history today.

Of course, Rubio’s idea sounds like a “threat” to social media today (especially Twitter) which I’ll take up soon.  No question, Hitler marked the Jews in the 1930s and it was too long before anybody noticed.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Salt Lake elects lesbian mayor, who plans dialogue with LDS church; anti-gay site seems almost comical in asking for money; checking on Baltimore with Hippo gone

Salt Lake City, Utah has elected an openly lesbian mayor, Jackie Biskupsi, who barely eked out a Republican incumbent.  And she promises a “sit-down” with the Mormon Church, according to conservative website “One News Now”, here.

It’s interesting (ghoulishly funny) if you look at the website “Americans for Truth about Homosexuality”, that it solicits donations and charges $49 for a book “Making Gay OK”.

Today, on the way to a concert in Baltimore, I took a pic of the sad closed Hippo.  Again, if it weren’t for Baltimore’s alcohol rules, the owner probably could have sold the club in a way that could keep it open.

I had brunch at the nearby Mt. Vernon Stables.  It seems as though there is a new restaurant owned by lesbians, and plans for a new club somewhere in the area.

The Grand Central hadn’t quite opened for the day, but it now has a Pub, Disco and Loft, and plans a “Black Party” Nov. 21.  Would it expand the size of its dance area with no more Hippo?

The Hippo had a nice karaoke area and plenty of room for sports bar viewing as well as the sunken dance floor.  It will be missed.  I have a feeling that large dances in Baltimore (like for Pride or New Years and Halloween) are likely to be held in rented facilities, maybe in casinos or around the Harbor, in the future.

On this day of security-consciousness, I drove right past the Ravens game on I-395 into downtown Baltimore, and could see into the stadium.  The Ravens lost the game.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Utah judge orders foster child removed from home of legally married lesbian couple

In eastern Utah, a juvenile court judge Scott Johansen ordered the removal of a foster child from the home of the legally married lesbian couple Beckie Peirce and April Hoagland. The couple is already raising Peirce’s two biological children.  The birth mother had approved the placement, but the judge claimed that the child would be better served in the home of a heterosexual couple.

The Washington Post has a story by Sandhya Somashekhar  looking at the situation in some states don’t treat gay couples as potential parents equally, despite the Supreme Court ruling in June on marriage.  Only seven states actually protect gay couples in foster care situations, and Mississippi still bars legally married gay couples from adopting, but this law is likely to be challenged successfully.  In Utah, foster care is treated as an accommodation, where discrimination is allowed for religious reasons or various other excuses.

Many observers feel that the couple could win if they sue in federal court, under the 14th amendment.
The parent issue is curious.  One complaint by social conservatives (well known in the 1990s) is that homosexuals burden families with children by not taking on the same risks and responsibilities and having more discretionary income and flexibility in the workplace.  The reasoning becomes oddly circular.

Picture: St. George, Utah, where I couldn’t get coffee in a Mormon-owned restaurant in 1981.  Picture by Nick Christensen. Wikipedia attribution link under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.5.  Second picture: Tornado damage in Tupelo, MS, my visit, May 2014.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lawrence v. Texas: dotting the "I's" on the law; what about Bowers? what about the UCMJ 125?

Here’s an old point of law, worth recalling.  Recall that in 2003, the Supreme Court, in Lawrence v. Texas, struck down 21.06 in Texas, a sodomy law that had been intended to target only same-sex activity.  Did the ruling also apply to previous sodomy laws that had applied to all couplings, including opposite-sex?  Remember, in 1986, the Supreme Court had held, 5-4, that the Georgia law (in Bowers v. Hardwick) had been constitutional, although a district judge in Dallas (in Baker v. Wade) had issued a ruling in 1982 that would have invalidated it (but was vacated in 1985 by the Fifth Circuit).   It’s well not to forget that the Texas legislature considered “strengthening” the sodomy law in 1983 in the early days of the AIDS crisis (before there was a test or HIV had even been identified), while I was living in Dallas and fighting my own way with underground letters.

The answer is, yes, it did invalidate laws like Georgia’s (or, for that matter, Virginia’s “crimes against nature” laws), because the Supreme Court reversed itself and now regarded private consenting adult sexual conduct as protected by substantive due process, under the 14th Amendment (and the incorporation doctrine).  It reversed language (quite explicit) in the 1986 ruling that had previously denied a fundamental right to sexual privacy. Wikipedia explains it here.  In a few states, including Virginia and Alabama, attempts to remove archaic laws are still blocked.

That brings up the issue of UCMJ 125, sodomy, in the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  I remember seeing this spelled out on a placard on a ship in my “visit” to Norfolk back in May 1993.  There was a case, US v. Marcum (link) where the Supreme Court did not take up a decision by the Court of Military Appeals to overturn it after Lawrence.

I found a discussion board (which does not appear to be official) where there is discussion of a bill to repeal, in the comments, here.

There is some confusion about this online, and Outserve-SLDN’s link seems to have been removed.  MSNBC, however, has a link on June 20, 2013, by Adam Serwer, indicating that USMJ-125 is still technically on the books, and even titles the article “Why the military still bans sodomy”.  NBC writes that there are some pretty obvious legal contradictions with the law being on the books, that the GOP resists removing it, and that it still keeps a tiny trace of discrimination against gay men and lesbians on the books.

A lot of people never learned a lesson from Alan Turing, who saved us all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Do transgender people have to register with Selective Service?

Recall that on July 13, 2015 (while the “cat was away – that is I was in Orlando, well, actually, Tampa) Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced ending of the rules that had previously prohibited transgender people from service in the US military, Time story by Eliza Gray here

But do transgender people have to register for Selective Service (ages 18 to 25)?  The answer is that people who had begin life as biological males must do so, regardless of progress in change, but those who had started as female do not.  Here is the reference online at the SSS site.  The transgender rules are near the end. 

It’s well to bear in mind the 1981 Supreme Court ruling Rostker v. Goldberg that had held male-only conscription and Selective Service registration not to violate the equal protection clause.  I have a feeling that such a ruling would change if the issue were re-litigated today. Charles Rangel, who has supported equality in the military, also supports a draft, as did Charles Moskos after 9/11.  (See Nov. 6 posting.) 

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Stonewall Inn, revisited

One of my favorite spots in "The City" (New York) is the Stonewall Inn (the other it the Therapy) and indeed, even Sunday night there is karaoke, drag and a little dirty dancing in the "upper room".

The building is undergoing renovation now, but it doesn't affect the club.

But the Club has added (or maybe I had missed it before) some pictures related to the police raids that used to happen before June 1969.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Houston's vote on gay rights came down to bathroom breaks

Houston’s “gay rights” ordinance was apparently broad-based as to discrimination.  But the Washington Post article by Justin Wm. Moyer says bluntly it failed for one reason: fear of men in women’s restrooms.  Here’s the link. If if I were a transgender male to female, this would be a big deal, maybe.
The article gives a link to a useful chart, “The Christian evolution on homosexuality”, by Niraj Chokshi, showing a gradual improvement over time on the percent who say homosexuality should be accepted by society.  Again, many religious and some secular nations (Russia) see homosexuality as a proxy for indifference to future generations.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture by “Hequals2Hemry” of Discovery Green in Houston

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Mormon church makes children of same-sex unions apostates

The Mormon Church (or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) seems to have backtracked on some earlier signs of moderation on “gay rights”, saying that the children of same-sex couples (whether legally married or cohabiting) cannot be members of or baptized in the Church, until age 18 and living separate (and willing to disavow same-sex marriage and “cohabitation”).

The CNN story by Ray Sanchez is “Mormon Church labels same-sex couples apostates”, link here.   The policy is part of “Handbook 1”.

Again, anti-gay attitudes seem caught up in placing a lot of meaning on procreative sexual intercourse (in marriage). It really is about openness to having children.

Wikipedia attribution link for Salt Lake City downtown picture by “Northern Magnolia” under Creative Commons 3.0 Share-Alike license. Most recent visit for me was in 1981.

Update: November 12

NBC reports that "hundreds" are leaving the Mormon church because of the policy, recent story here

Friday, November 06, 2015

Democrats in Congress consider bill to upgrade "gay discharges" from the military pre-repeal; Rangel still wants a military draft

Congress is considering a “Restore Honor to Service Members Act”, sponsored by Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Charles Rangel (D-NY) along with Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), as in a Washington Blade story by Chris Johnson  here.  The law would help restore discharges to honorable, whether under “don’t ask don’t tell” or older policies before 1993.  Many discharges, though, were honorable (such as Keith Meinhold's in 1992) but could contain "SPN codes". Both Biden and Hillary Clinton had suggested this in connection with the HRC National Dinner in early October.
Senator Schatz has a copy of the Act here.

The bill is S. 1956 (here on Govtrack).

Charles Rangel, as recently as March 2015, has called for reinstating the military draft (story ).  But I expect to look into the idea that the Selective Service System could be abolished soon.

On my International Issues blog, I have a story on a proposed stiffening of the Russian anti-gay speech law from 2013 to include all public speech, a kind of “Don’t Tell” even for civilians.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Major Washington DC Baptist Church will let congregation vote on same-sex marriage in February, 2016

The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC reports that it will hold a congregational vote on Sunday, February 7. 2016, on whether the church should perform same-sex marriages.

A deacon meeting in October had favored the change in church marriage policy by a vote of 6-4, but it was determined that the congregation should vote.

In January, 2016 (on a Sunday yet to be announced) the Church will hold an information forum for members. It says that it will present scriptural references with a variety of views on how the references on marriage (and to some extent, sexual orientation and conduct as separate issues) have been interpreted.

Interim preaching pastor Stan Hastey had given a sermon about LGBT inclusion on Sunday, August 10, 2014, discussed here on that date.

I "grew up" in this church in the 1940s through the 1960s. The congregation moved into its current sanctuary on Christmas Day, 1955 (and the sanctuary was recently renovated to allow for the new Austin organ).   Edward Hughes Pruden, from Richmond. VA,  was pastor until the late 60s, and was considered progressive for his time.  The church is affiliated with both American and Southern Baptist conventions.  Another pastor, Everett Goodwin (1981-1993) was recently a minister at Myers Park Baptist in Charlotte, NC, also progressive.

Here is a list of LGBTQ affirming churches in Washington DC area   Note that First Baptist appears.  It does not appear on some others, where Riverside and Calvary do, for example, here.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

"Ghost Town" Halloween Party at Town DC seems to be the disco's largest ever

I got to the “Ghost Town” party at Town at about 10:40 PM, delayed by Metro schedules. Already the line extended two blocks.  But I got in within 20 minutes.  Fortunately, the weather was mild, dry, in the upper 50s, no wind. The fact that Halloween occurred on a Saturday with the time change certainly increased the crowds.

It was probably the largest event at Town Danceboutique that I have ever seen. The outdoor patio helped to add space.  When I left around 1:30 AM (before the time change) there was another line.

There were more contestants in the costume contest upstairs upstairs than ever.  I liked the idea of “angels” in competition – something that happens in my DADT screenplay, maybe prescient.

Earlier in the day, there had been a 200-person line outside a party store in the Ballston Common in Arlington.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Beggar's Night at Cobalt DC

They say you need to have trick-or-treats ready by Oct. 30, Beggar's Night.

With Halloween on a Saturday night thus year, an extra hour for standard time, and then All Saint's Day on a Sunday..  A lot for a weekend at 72.

Cobalt got going early, and nobody seemed to know that the Mets had beaten up on the Royals.