Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gay clubs in Baltimore could be affected by curfew this weekend, consider early tea dances

Gay clubs in Baltimore (as with all clubs and discos) would be affected by the 10 PM curfew related to the recent rioting over the Freddie Gray incident.
I dropped by the Grand Central on Charles Street late this afternoon.   The street itself was very quiet when I was there today. The businesses had closed Monday before 7 PM.  I was told that this establishment would try to do a tea dance early, starting around 5 PM, at least on Saturday, if the curfew is still in effect.  It would sound logical for the Hippo to do the same, although I don’t see that online yet. 
Usually, disco crowds come late, except on Halloween and then on Saturday night after Pride.  I wish they came earlier and that there were more Sunday tea dances anyway. 
Pictures on this post are from the Sandtown area of Baltimore, my earlier visit today.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Anti-gay noise dominates crowd before Supreme Court, with mixed accounts of the oral arguments on gay marriage by state

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the two Obergefell cases today.  At 10 AM, it heard 90 minutes on the question as to whether states can limit marriage to one man, one woman.  The last hour (until 12:30) dealt with Full Faith and Credit, whether states that don’t recognize gay marriage would have to recognize the gay marriages in states that do, which is meaningful only if “we” “lose” the first case.
There are two oral argument PDF’s from the SCOTUS site, 1 and 2.
CNN has a detailed account here, with four videos, and HRC has audio here.

Generally, Kennedy seemed skeptical that the Court should take over “redefining” marriage, but he also acknowledged that children raised by same-sex couples can experience hardships imposed by negative social views about their parents.  He also acknowledged that gay couples seem to be needed as adoptive parents. 
I got there around noon, and found that the “anti-gay” crowd was quite vocal, often trying to out-shout the Equality forces.  Fundamentalist religious rhetoric was common. One opponent was an Orthodox Jewish group.  One demonstrator had a placard claiming that one in three gay men have sex with minors.
One anti-gay protester was reportedly arrested in the Supreme Court building.
I carried around a book on quantum physics to visibly meet “religionists”.  I met someone from the Libertarian Party of Virginia in the crowd.
One of the conservative speakers toward the end claimed that gays and lesbians can tell their stories in movies when African Americans often can’t, and said that blacks have been lynched when gays haven’t. (That’s not totally true;  there have been a few plots against gay establishments, and a horrible incident in New Orleans in 1973.) 

I walked toward the back, and then Union Station.  I asked one woman how it went, and she gave a “thumbs up” sign, and then two more women, who were also quite optimistic.  

Also, the Foundry Methodist Church at 16th and P Sts NW, where the Clintons used to attend, was "tp-ed" with anti-gay signs (story and picture in Washingtom Blade April 26 by Michael Lavers here.  But today, the sign had been removed.
I grew up at First Baptist, two blocks down 16th.  

Monday, April 27, 2015

Philosophical divide within conservatives on SCOTUS about "fundamental rights" could affect arguments tomorrow (legacy of 2003)

Fred Barnes has an important Washington Post story Monday morning, “Frequent allies on high court diverge over gay rights”, link here.  He refers to Anthony M. Kennedy and Antonin Scalia.
Scalia, remember, in Lawrence v. Texas, has “warned” that detoxing sodomy laws could actually lead to endorsing gay marriage.  In a sense, that seems to have happened.
Jeffrey Toobin asks if the founding fathers should solve the gay marriage case here
But most of the article concerns whether “fundamental rights” as in the constitution should only be those recognized by the founding fathers – something that immediately asks about the incorporation doctrine associated with the 14th Amendment.  The other side is that societal culture can come to a modern understanding that other individual rights are fundamental.  Part of that culture certainly relates to technology and to standard of living.  Tuesday, April 28, is the "big day" at SCOTUS. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Vox tries to explain society's hang-ups on gender conformity

Vox media published a 9-point primer today on the transgender experience, and covered the terms “gender non-conforming” and “gender queer”, a piece by German Lopez, here ("Nine questions about gender identity and being transgendered you were too embarrassed to ask”). In my Army days, we called these "hangups."  Please, no more of "all that body-shaving". 
The most critical point is the “Symphony #8” (G Major if it’s Dvorak), “why does society who don’t follow gender norms such a hard time?”   While Lopez talks about the idea of perceiving “deception” (almost as if from a polygraph).  My own experience, in the 50s and 60s (especially with William and Mary, NIH, and the Army) was more that gender non-conformity (the closest model to describe me) could result in others taking up the slack of the risks that we all had to share.  In the collective, society seemed to depend on faithfulness to gender roles.  I was criticized for over-dependence and "getting out of things", even potential physical cowardice.  Of course, this can happen with gender conformity, and I seemed to embrace the view, ironically, that masculinity in men was a virtue to be earned.  And we've had at least one Navy Seal who later turned out to be transgender (Kristin Beck). 
Right now, on Meredith Vieira, the panel is talking about “dressing gay” (as not really necessary).  
And tonight ABC will air a 20-20 special about Bruce Jenner. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

College students still protest remnants of MSM blood donation ban

The Daily Tar Heel, in article by Katia Martinez, reports on a mild protest at the University of North Carolina (UNC) campus over the policy barring MSM from donating blood, link here
Apparently that policy is still in force, despite an announcement by FDA in December 2014 to life the ban for MSM abstinent for at least a year and still HIV- by all tests.  Vox Media had panned the idea, that the new policy worked only for gay men who don’t have sex (often elderly).  
Another article, by Madison Flager, in the same UNC paper, talks about LGBT college students, and reports a bizarre finding from a UNC survey “only 51.4%” identified themselves as heterosexual, link here.  If that were really true, population demographics really is in trouble.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

A retrospect on DADT while "on the road"; another route to Town

A long day trip this week brought back memories of the “Don’ Ask, Don’t Tell” battle of 17 years.
I happened to pass by the Carlisle Barracks and Army War College in PA.  I think there was a case with a female officer attending there about twelve years ago.  Again, it’s hard to see much from the road.
So much of my moral thinking in those days hinged on the idea that people have to be prepared to respond to adversity as imposed by others.  In my case, it was the whole issue of fitness for the Vietnam era military draft, and the idea I had to prove I would not be a (physical) coward, when sometimes I was.  Much of the narrative in the first DADT book concerned the concern over security clearances and eligibility for military service after my William and Mary expulsion. It also concerned the use of the deferment system.  And here I am, a half century later.

I got off at the “wrong” Metro exit, the Howard University stop on the Green Line, on the way to Town last night.

But it’s about as close as the U Street exit, and the walk gives a view of the Howard Theater.

The patio is open. 

Update later today:

A lemonade stand, across 23rd ST S in Arlington VA (near Pentagon City) from Freddie's Beach Bar (and the AGLA brunch today). benefit for an abused animal shelter, a mother and son running it.  Remember, Donald Trump had started out "The Apprentice" in 2004 with selling lemonade (before, a few episodes later, Troy McClain got his legs waxes as he "took one for the team").   

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Florida's governor mum on signing gay adoption ban repeal despite appeals court ruling

The Washington Blade (Michael Lavers) is reporting that Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, has declined to say whether he will sign the bill repealing Florida’s legislated ban on gays and lesbians adopting children, story here
But the state has not enforced the ban since 2010, when a state appeals court struck it down.
Equality Florida has a drive to urge signing the law, here saying that the horrible history started by Anita Bryant is over.
Rosie O’Donnell, as I recall, had moved away from the state for this reason.

Equality Florida is warning about HB 7111, another bill which would allow private adoption agencies to continue discrimination in various ways, even if getting state funds.
When I was working on my book centering on the military ban, back in the 1990s, I started encountering more interest in the parenting and adoption issues even then.  In the mid 1990s, Kenneth Morgen’s book “Getting Simon: Two Gay Doctors’ Journey into Fatherhood”, taking place in Maryland, was an important book.

Update: April 27

Florida legislature apparently tables vote and will adjourn, HRC story

Monday, April 13, 2015

Large law firms don't want to defend anti-gay-marriage laws or precepts

The country’s top law firms don’t want to defend older DOMA-type laws, according to a front page story today in the New York Times by Adam Liptak, link here

 Liptak has also previously reported that the Supreme Court has been urged to “look abroad” for guidance on same-sex marriage.
Smaller law firms will still take up the socially conservative arguments (that sound surprisingly collectivist as well as “religulous” and often contradictory to other ideas in conservative philosophy).  But bigger law firms normally work with larger corporations that feel that society has turned to corner on gay equality and that need to embrace the concept to grow their markets as well as attract talent. 

Some firms say there is still a difference between talking about good policy and maintaining that the Constitution would compel it.

In another direction, the Huffington Post reports that Marco Rubio will appear before an anti-gay group, the Florida Family Policy Council, story here. And the article has a slide-show, "Anti-Gay Protesters Getting Owned."  
As they say, times have changed, and surprisingly quickly.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

GOP is forced to become more pragmatic on gay equality, and follow libertarian reasoning

Metro Weekly columnist Justin Snow notes “The Red Divide: Religious freedom bills pit social conservatives against corporate America” this week, link here , an article I noticed while having brunch at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington a while ago.
In other words, corporate America has largely followed the thinking of libertarian interests:  anti-gay bias will hurt business, even in Bible belt states.  Companies follow the thinking of the Cato Institute, and Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty, GLIL, not very active today but influential in the 1990s.  They follow the reasoning of Richard Sincere, David Boaz, and me.
Snow has an article about Rand Paul’s neglect to mention LGBT concerns, as does the Washington Blade this weekend.  But on CNN, Paul told interviewers he is a “leave me alone kind of guy” and that he thinks gay couple should get the same benefits as straight couples, but that this is still up to the states, and that “marriage” for him is still more a religious than legal word.  Well, don’t say that in a community property state, like Texas.   

Monday, April 06, 2015

Billy Bean is Major League Baseball's Ambassador for Inclusion

Recently (in February) the MLB Network aired a special about the career of Billy Bean, the first openly gay player in Major League Baseball, who came out in 1999. USA Today has a story with clips from the special here.  He played, as a left-handed hitting outfielder, for the Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and San Diego Padres.  The USA clip shows his first major league home run.
Billy Bean was hired by MLB as Ambassador for Inclusion in July 2014, was reported in Outsports here .
Bean is the author of “Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life in Major League Baseball”. 
Bean should not be confuses with Billy Beane, Oakland A’s owner, who is sometimes viewed as the subject of the movie “Moneyball”.
Today, of course, is Opening Day for many teams,  It is common for teams to have LGBT fan days.
The Washington Post reports Monday, in a story by Marc Fisher, that baseball is losing fans to other sports, especially soccer, link here 
I grew up “suffering” with the Washington Senators who played in old Griffith Stadium, now the site of Howard University Hospital, and not far from the Town DC and 930 clubs.  As kids, we played backyard softball and wiffleball and made cardboard stadium boardgames, especially in summers in Ohio.  I got to know the Cleveland Indians and the old Municipal Stadium on Lake Erie pretty well  

Saturday, April 04, 2015

A Christian gives himself an imaginary interview about Indiana-Arkansas-Hobby Lobby issues

While demonstrations in Indianapolis (Final Four) continue (as if the governor’s changes aren’t good enough), the New York Times publishes “Interview with a Christian”, by Ross Douthart – the Christian himself, being interviewed by an imaginary interviewer, here

Is this about “identity”, or is about cultural motives.  I found myself wondering, what if during the Vietnam War, with all the protests, a business didn’t want to serve soldiers. 

It also strikes me that the religious teachings, at their best, are all about karma, about spreading unavoidable hidden sacrifices around “fairly”.  I still don’t find a contradiction between the most modern cosmology, and religious faith, if you know the right place for faith. 
Sunrise is six hours away. 


Easter Sunday has come.  I attended Sunrise service, and a formal service at some rather open congregations.  I also got an email from "Americans for ex gays" with a lot of spammy forwards inside.

So I go back to Douthart's essay, and ask, well, sure, maybe if you're a printer, you shouldn't have to print a Nazi tract if you don't want to.  If you run a public accommodation, it should be open to everyone. But if the objection is a religious objection to gay relationships, what do "you" really object to.  Do you really think a loving god will punish you for serving a same-sex couple?  Of course, some religions don't see their "god" as loving.

I see God as cosmological, embedded in the extra dimensions of string theory, dimensions we normally can''t access.  Except for something like a miracle or a resurrection.  A teen Clark Kent has to get his "powers" from something.  

Thursday, April 02, 2015

An article claiming "married men do better in life" makes one wonder if this applies to gay men in same-sex unions

Michelle Singletary tweeted a rather brazen op-ed by W. Bradford Wilcox from the Washington Post, “Don’t be a bachelor; why married men work harder, smarter, and make more money, by W. Bradford Wilcox, for the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, link here
Of course, the obvious question for me is, would this piece be anti-gay?  Or does it apply the same way to gay men? 
I think this is just as important to ponder as the recent debate over the RFRA in Indiana and Arkansas.
Until the past ten years, when gay marriage became culturally and legally credible (starting with Massachusetts, then amazingly quickly), bachelorhood and male homosexuality were seen as somewhat interchangeable.  The arguments in this piece go back to books by George Gilder, like “Sexual Suicide” (1973) and “Men and Marriage” (1986) (see Books, April 12, 2006).  
 Homosexuality was regarded as a character defect or failure, an unwillingness or disinclination to channel sexual interests and particularly physical performance in ways needed by “society”.  That was certainly true of me, and still is.  Gilder made “upward affiliation” a bad word. 
It is true that in general married men make more money and even live longer.  It’s pretty obvious you’ll compete harder (like in sales) if you have more mouths to feed.  And it’s pretty clear that if you have a life partner, you have more support in case of hardship.  That’s not just disease (like recovering from disfiguring cancer surgery). It’s intimate support if one is maimed in war or by violence from others.  I personally find contemplating using sexuality that way repelling, but it was exactly that attitude of mine (like when I was a patient at NIH in 1962) that others found so disturbing.
The comment that employers prefer married men with children hurts.  It was truer when I started working (in 1970) than it is now (for example, this anecdote on Wordpress, link ). 
There’s also a real question, as to whether people should wait until they are financially set before having (or adopting) children, something libertarians argue.  But Wilcox turns that into a chicken-and-egg problem.
The recent course of the soap “Days of our Lives” have carried Will’s jealous behavior with the matter of Paul and Sonny to ridiculous extremes.  But maybe jealousy is a necessary thing.  It is something I have never experienced.  Had gay marriage been possible when I was coming of age, could I really have "used it", as Jonathan Rauch would have asked?