Tuesday, March 31, 2015

How Indiana's RFRA is different from those of other states

ThinkProgress has an article, by Judd Legum, and chart that explains in more detail how Indiana's RFRA differs from that of all other states (it is more like that of Texas), link here.

The fact that Indiana specifically allows it to apply to disputes among private entities makes it easier for some entities to avoid the usual penumbra of public accommodations.

Hence the governor wants the legislature to bring the law more in line with that of all the other states marked in red on the map. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act backfires, draws ire from companies and NCAA

Conservatives are desperately trying to justify Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as narrowly drawn to relatively personal situations, as in this Weekly Standard article here

But thousands protested the law in Indianapolis Saturday, as USA Today reports here
There is a Boycott Indiana movement, recalling the battle over the Boy Scouts of America.  There is also an “Open for Service” campaign.
ThinkProgress has an article of major interests saying that the law is now bad for business, including the NCAA, here.  Angie’s List may cancel planned renovation and expansion in Indianapolis. (See my main blog March 26), as it says some employees may fear moving to Indiana. The NCAA and Final Four have objected.  It seems that one aspect that is objectionable is the "Hobby" provision that would allow it to be applied to closely held corporations as well as companies.  
I worked for RCA for about three months in the summer of 1970 at 30th St and Washington in Indianapolis. 
In another matter, I attended a Reel Affirmations fundraiser last night.  Details are today on my Movie’s Blog.  
Second picture: after drag show at Cobalt DC Sat. PM. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

States, even with gay marriage, fall behind on anti-discrimination, "no pro homo" laws

Vox media has a couple of important US maps: one, showing which states have anti-gay discrimination protections, which include gender identity, and which have no protections.  It also provides a map of states with “no pro homo laws” banning teachers from mentioning homosexuality (at least in a positive light) in public schools. Important parts of history (such as the legal and court battles over gays in the military and now gay marriage, as well as the parallels between LGBT and traditional race-based civil rights movement) are overlooked, even in some approved texts.  
Curiously, Utah provides discrimination protection (recently) but also still has the “no pro” law on the books!  Virginia has neither.
But even some states forced to allow gay marriage have an unfavorable legal environment in these areas.
The “no pro homo” laws would sound like minor reflections of Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws now.
These kinds of laws are, in part, motivated by the old “waverer” theory, that is, a belief that a “marginal” person will decide not to marry and have children if he or she finds out that an “alternate lifestyle” is socially and morally acceptable.  And in Russia, Putin makes a lot of the low birth rate.
It may seem counter-intuitive.  Isn’t reproduction an instinctive drive in perhaps most people?  Yet, this idea wasn’t that controversial when I was growing up.  In the 1950s, I can recall seeing a few women’s magazine articles (why did I look at them?) expressing the “old maid” fear (dramatized in a famous scene in “Gone with the Wind”), that some young women would never find husbands and become poor.  Even in my little stint of heterosexual dating in 1971, I picked up on this.  There was a fear that someone like me could mean some woman would never marry.
There was still a vestige of authoritarianism in social values as I grew up.  There was a belief that stability and security depended on some sense of discipline in the population, with more attention to non-conformity (as being played out now in the “Divergent” movies).  Typically, authoritarianism creates its own political corruption (look at modern Russia under Putin).  But sometimes it remains relatively clean (like Singapore, recently discussed with Yew's death). 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

AFA takes out full page newspaper print ads claiming marriage is defined only by God

Tuesday, The American Family Association took out a full page ad in the Washington Post, claiming that marriage comes from God, not man.
The obvious problem is, of course, separation of church and state. I have always thought it rather illogical that a God designs the lives of beings with Free Will.  God is not writing a novel.  We're not characters in a screenplay (at least not mine).

But there is something else at work here.  Marital partners may feel that adherence to religious precepts, and belief that others recognize them, makes the marital relationship more passionate.  If they believe secular ideas define marriage, they may feel less incentivized to stay in it.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Barney Frank, in interview, hints at closeted members of Congress

“Retired” Democratic congressman Barney Frank, in an article by Nik DeCostaKlipa in Boston, is reported to have suggested that a number of other members of Congress are “closeted” gays, and he says he has no problem with that as long as they aren’t hypocrites.  The story is here. Barney Frank has a new book named after, well, his last name. 
He’s particularly ticked at GOP members of Congress in the closet, since they often have voted anti-gay, and left Log Cabin Republicans with the dubious double role (of playing libertarian).  Particularly taunting is the idea that Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) was rumored to be gay, despite the public womanizing. The beef photos with a hairless chest doesn’t do anything to defuse the rumors.  Remember David Skinner’s June 1999 article in “Weekly Standard”.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

California lawyer proposes most extreme anti-gay referendum ever (even outdoing Russia's)

When I see a news story like the Vox account (by German Lopez) of the proposed “Sodomite Suppression Act” in California, for which Orange County attorney Matt McLaughlin filed the required $200 fee to create a ballot initiative, I wonder if some people propose things like this just for the attention, to force news organizations, in the interest of objectivity, to report on their proposals.  That even creates a problem for individual bloggers; their followers don’t need to see Facebook posts or tweets reporting trash like this.
Nevertheless, as Vox explains, it probably will get into the referendum process, before the State supreme court removes it as so obviously unconstitutional.  The law wording even contains a trap to stop a challenge to its constitutionality.
The law, on its face, reads like a parody of Russia’s “anti-gay propaganda law”, deliberately legalizing violence in some cases, and actually making same-sex relations a capital crime (which Russia’s law actually does not).

We can wonder again why someone regards gay “sodomy” a bigger threat than real competition for a heterosexual spouse.

There is value in reporting the story in recalling that in the spring of 1983, there was a bill before the Texas legislature, HR2138, reinforcing the sodomy law at the time (2106) and banning gays from most occupations.  This was a right wing response to the early days of the AIDS panic, before HTLV-3 was even identified.

There was a somewhat vitriolic anti-gay referendum in Oregon in 1992. 
But this latest proposal from Orange County sounds like Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”.  I do remember other anti-gay politicians from that area, like Danmeyer.   

NBC News reports that Bob Jones III apologized for a similar statement made 35 years ago, here

Saturday, March 21, 2015

LDS church won't act on personal social media support of gay marriage

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints now says it will not take any action against individual members who express political support for gay marriage or any other equal rights for gays in social or any other public media, as long as it is not presented as official church doctrine.  The story in the Salt Lake Tribune is here.  It wasn’t clear if this applied to church employees.
There have been numerous problems with employees of other churches, especially Catholic, being fired for supporting gay marriage on their own social media accounts.  The problem was much less noticeable with earlier issues, like gays in the military.
Wikipedia attribution link for photo of Great Salt Lake. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Presbyterian Church approve subtle wording change to allow same-sex marriages

The largest Presbyterian body in the United States, PCUSA, has approved a wording change in its constitution to allow LGBT weddings in the church.  The wording changes from marriage as a contract “between a man and a woman” to a contract “between two people traditionally a man and a woman”.  I might have inserted the word “adult”.  The New York Times story by Laurie Goodstein is here
The Presbyterian denomination in the US has lost 37% of its membership since 1992. 
I have attended both Clarendon Presbyterian Church (link ) and more recently Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington VA.  
Social life in mainstream churches, however, tends to revolve around families with children (and extended by elders), and around mutual support and needs that often arise in families, and not so much with individual personal choices in the usual sense.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Rise of gay equality may become an existential threat to some "conservative" religious domination branches

Jack Jenkins has a major piece in ThinkProgress today on how the rise of LGBT rights, especially marriage equality, is an “existential threat” to socially conservative religious groups, link here.  My first reaction was to think all the way back to Robert Blair’s Evangelicals Concerned when I lived in Dallas in the 1980s.
The article mentions World Vision, an “evangelical charity”, which pulled out on a promise to hire “gay married” employees after objections from “conservative” donors, as indicated in this story from New Internationalist here .  World Vision supports efforts lie the “30Hour Famine”  World Vision, however, did issue statements arguing that Uganda’s anti-gay law could hinder charitable efforts, especially with HIV-infected persons, as indicated in this Christian Post story

It strikes me that, over all the years, “gay equality” or even gay privacy as it used to be construed, was a subset of a larger battle over the importance of a group (or family) needing to expect emotional loyalty form its members to larger goals, especially population.  Just as there used to be an anti-Vietnam war saying “My country right or wrong”, there is also “my family right or wrong”, and “my beliefs right or wrong.”  Since individuals will inherit the “karma” of their group, they have to become very concerned over knowing that their faith is “right” when compared to someone else’s.  No wonder there can be war over religion.  “Inherit the wind”, indeed.  On the other hand, hyperindividualism (which works well with a lot of the modern gay community) can leave a lot of less “independent” people behind. Darwinianism, or Spencerianism, doesn’t quite computer morally either.

On the “30 Hour Famine”, I’m reminded of little dilemma over donating latte money, and the like, or even putting on public sympathy with fundraisers staffed by barbers.  I think “you do, for others, what you think you should do” with your own talents, and play down the spectacle of “sacrifice” or making someone “all right”. Of course, that doesn't completely support "belonging" or social capital. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Rite of Spring, without Stravinsky; Clubs really need 24-hr garages near U St and near Dupont

Saturday night, I finally got out for a “normal” evening of clubbing.  Suddenly, after weeks of unusual late winter cold, it was mild, in the 60s, warm enough for a little thunder.  The Town Danceboutique, apparently for the first time ever, opened its new patio during nighttime disco hours. The upstairs DJ program was called "Dirty Pop". 
There is a new stairway from the dance floor to the patio, which definitely sounds like a good idea.
All around, in the neighborhood, apartments and condos are going up, like the Schay across U St. I hope they don’t encroach.  You wonder how an outdoor parking lot can survive in the area.  The businesses (including the 930 as well as Town) need to build a regular 24-hour commercial garage and charge a reasonable smart-phone flat rate on weekend nights.  (In West Hollywood, the Library became the night paid lot, with no street parking, and a flat $10 a night charge when I was there, and, yes, I went to the Abbey.)

I’ve been reading Jack Andraka’s book “Breaththrough”, and will review it soon on my Books blog.

But Chapter 4 goes into detail about the rejection and bullying he faced in middle school (8th grade?) after he “came out”.  I thought that in an upper middle class Baltimore suburb, in a blue state, that school systems had a better handle on this problem by year 2000 or so than they did.  Still, at the time, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was ten years away, and the first marriage victory for a state would not happen for four years. 
We’re left to wonder where these attitudes hailed from.  What did others want from “divergents” like me?  It seems that, when I was growing up, marital sexuality was seen as a communitarian  thing – the permanence of the passion depended on the social support for it, and the exclusion of everything else.  We were a big leak in the picture.  But a lot of the bullying seems to come from more basic things:  a vulgar extension of the idea of “survival of the fittest” (including reproductively speaking, Putin style), and a cultist need to see everyone held to some kind of pre-ordained (or scriptural) idea of virtue, so that all the hardships (and unfairness) of real life took on some meaning.
Still, saying or implying that you probably wouldn’t have children was seen as a bigger threat to the community than sexual aggression or infidelity in the usual sense. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Ocular syphilis is causing blindness in some MSM

The Washington Blade is reporting on an ocular syphilis outbreak among MSM, and it seems to be more likely or more severe among men who are HIV+.  Many of the reports come from the LA area. The link is here
This variation of syphilis can lead to partial or total blindness, in one or both eyes.
Yet the old bacterial diseases – syphilis and gonorrhea, a stable of advice in gay men’s health in earlier generations, became totally overshadowed by AIDS and HIV in the 1980s.  Another major concern was Hepatitis B.  I actually got the vaccination for it in the fall of 1982 in Dallas. 

College students, regardless of gender and sexual orientation, need to consider getting both meningitis vaccines before moving into dorms.  Again, HIV+ status probably makes the complications (amputations) more likely, but they can affect everyone.  The Type B vaccine is new, but Type B is the more dangerous type, probably.   

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Florida introduces bill to repeal ban on gay parent adoptions, already declared unconstitutional

The Florida legislature has introduced a bill, HR 7013, that would remove the ban on adoption of children by gay and lesbian parents, after an old law was struck down in 2010 (by a state appeals court).  Equality Florida has the story here.

Previously, some gay couples had given foster care (including one male couple that took in a few HIV-infected children) but had been forbidden by law to adopt.  Some other states, like Arkansas and New Hampshire, had bans in the past.
Rosie O’Donnell had moved out of state to raise he children.
Just as with gay marriage, or even more so, the legalization of adoption by gay couples or singles raises a new question: should it be “expected”?  The NBC4 “Wednesday’s Child” seems to plead for adoptive parents (Sunday’s story).
The “moral debate” used to equate by proxy  homosexuality to singleness and childlessness, and disposable income, v. “responsibility for others”.  That seems like an early 90s idea now.  The debate has gotten much more nuanced. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Complicated litigation for same-sex couples and Social Security Administration recoupments

Chris Johnson reports, in the Washington Blade, some complicated cases where Social Security Administration continued to make payments to legally married persons in same-sex marriages and then tried to recoup the benefits.  These cases appear to involve SSI (Supplemental Security Income), not normal retirement.  I recapped those this morning on my Retirement blog. 
In fact, normal retirement, SSI, and SSDI all can present different issues for same-sex couples and these issues do not appear to be legally resolved yet.  One issue concerns “state of celebration” and “state o residence”.  Litigation was filed by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, and then Justice for Aging. 
It’s also important to remember that many (employer-provided) retirement or purchased annuities pay singles higher payments if there are no spousal survival benefits.  

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Shelter for transgendered youth will open in Washington DC

Petula Dvorak reports that a new shelter specifically for transgendered youth will open in Washington DC, apparently on Georgia Ave. in NW, soon, in her Washington Post column here.   She also discusses the fact that single-gender shelters in DC may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity (that is, a person has the gender that the person claims).
When I lived in Dallas in the 1980s, there was an attempt to fund a “Safe Place” for gays thrown out of their homes, at the local MCC.  Donors were offered “founder’s shares”. 

Sunday, March 08, 2015

NBC station in Washington reports on adoption by same-sex couples in the "Wednesday's Child" series

Today, NBC Washington (or NBC4) aired an episode of “Wednesday’s Child” that showed a teenage boy being adopted by what appeared to be a male couple.  The broadcast did not say the couple was gay or legally married.  Apparently it lives in Washington DC.  However, this is the first time I’ve personally seen an adoption by a same-sex couple on the segment, which usually airs on Wednesday mornings before the noon hour.  The teen appeared to be well-adjusted and doing well in school.

In Minneapolis, before I left in 2003, there was a campaign to encourage singles to adopt, even with bu stop ads.  

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

UK denies asylum to lesbian from Nigeria because she has kids; more on TPP, Gambia, and Alabama

First, we’ve covered Alabama’s self-strangulation on gay marriage, and it seems to go on today.

There is a significant story today by Shane Larson and Lori Pelletier, “Obama must be consistent on LGBT rights”, in negotiating the TPP.  Now the Trans Pacific Partnership talks have come under heavy criticism from libertarian interests because of aggressive copyright enforcement policies, hindering speech.  This article is more narrowly targeted toward countries with anti-gay policies, specifically Gambia in this case, after the USTR terminated Gambia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act.

Today Vox  (story by Amanda Taub) reported that the UK had denied political asylum to Aderonke Apata, a lesbian from Nigeria, because she has children! 

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Oregon considers ban on conversion therapy for minors

Oregon is now considering a bill to ban “conversion therapy” for those under 18, according to a story by Casey Parks in the Oregonian, link here.  The bill is HB 2307, the “Youth Mental Health Protection Act”, title and link here.  A lot of the complaints about “conversion therapy” for youth concerned the Portland Fellowship, link here
You know what the “religious freedom” arguments are.  They will appeal to parents who want as much progeny as possible.  It’s easier for people to perform in life the way they think they should if they know everyone else has to. 
Oregon was the site of an anti-gay referendum in the fall of 1992, which failed.  
Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Eugene, OR, by Jsayre68, Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 license. My most recent visit occurred in 1996.