Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Texas allows local clerks to cross the ethical lines on "conflict of interest" in resisting issuing same-sex marriage licenses; the Katie Lang site

The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton (GOP), issued an opinion stating that local county clerks can deny marriage licenses that contradict their personal religious objections.  He will not defend them, but can provide pro bono attorneys who will.

And according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, at least one clerk in Granbury in Hood County, was taking him up.  Katie Lang said she would state her own policy on a personal website today, which I cannot yet find in search engines. 

Another clerk, in Denton County, however, said that her religious beliefs actually required her to uphold the law even if she disagreed with it, and would issue licenses. 
AC360 tried to interview Katie Lang on this video.
I have some distant experience with the issue of “public broadcast” speech when it could cause a conflict.  I actually transferred within a company and move to Minneapolis in 1997 right after publishing a book that dealt critically with the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for gays in the military, because a branch of the company in Virginia specialized in selling to military officers.   I felt this was a “conflict of interest”, even though I didn’t make any underwriting decisions that could affect customers.  So I personally look askance at a public official’s putting expression her own opinions over her job under the law. 
Lang appears to be affiliated with the Hood County Tea Party.
Paxton did say that fines for non-compliance were possible, if not real likely.

 Update: July 3

Now Lang says she won't interfere with other employees offering gay marriage licenses.  Polarized demonstrations have taken place in Granbury, TX. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

"Undocumented Trans and Queer People" die-in protest to take place near White House June 30 (according to press release sent to me)

I just got an email from Mario Carillo that “United We Dream”  and “Operation Break the Cage” will conduct a “die-in” at 16th and H Sts NW Tuesday at 1:15PM near the White House. The press release says “Undocumented Trans and Queer People”, so one can sense the tone of the protest.

The closest coverage I could find online is here for a similar protest in May.  I’ve asked Mario to post this on a specific post so it can be tweeted.

I’m not sure yet how big this will be or how much attention it will get from the major media.  Maybe it will touch off debate on the asylum issue, and the policies that are needed.  This is a difficult political issue.  Will the movement need sponsors?

Update: June 30

I got a second email today saying that the protest will happen at 2:15 PM instead of 1:15.  Facebook link is here

Later June 30

I did attend and film some of the demonstration, more details on Wordpress here.

The tone of the event was more about social and emotional solidarity than political arguments.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Housing and job discrimination protections at federal level will be uphill fight

Erik Eckholm has a front page story Sunday morning in the New York Times, “Next up for gay rights: Jobs in bias and housing”, link here
The article gives some stories of bias, especially in the rural south, as a lesbian couple was unable to get an apartment in Tennessee.  In the early 1990s, there was a horrific case, DeMuth v Miller, where an accountant was fired for being gay in Pennsylvania and then the accountant was sued when he went started his own business and took business away (and the employer won).  Cracker Barrel Restaurant (the greeting sign on I-95 driving north and approaching Fredericksburg, VA) fired people for “being gay” in the early 90s and was reported on ABC 20-20;  it was hosted in Lebanon, TN.
A GOP Congress might seem less likely to pass an ENDA, but some Republican Congressman are claiming they are trying to figure out a balance between religion and personal lifestyle in the workplace.
And transgender protections don't always follow sexual orientation protections. 
GLIL (Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty) actually offered an awkward press release in 1996 opposing ENDA-type laws based on libertarian theories.  And Harry Browne was from Tennessee!
CNN reports that a couple in Louisiana is having trouble getting a marriage license because of the words “bride” and “groom” on the form. 


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Same-sex marriage ruling applies to military bases

One of my Facebook friends (associated with fighting “don’t ask don’t tell in the Marine Corps in the 1990s)  has forwarded a story from Instinct Magazine, that the same-sex marriage ruling Friday does extend to military bases, link here.  It does NOT deal with any transgender issues (or even the idea of which gender someone is in the eyes of the law).  
One of the interesting paradoxes is that the 1993 DADT policy considered “attempting to marry a member known to be of the same biological sex” a triggering factor for discharge – ironically years in advance of the time when gay marriage would be legal, but prescient. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Court nixes "states rights" to bar same-sex marriage, in historic 5-4 ruling

I was in a bank making a car insurance loss deposit exactly as my Smartphone beeped and tweeted the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage.  The bank (Wells Fargo) said it could not turn on its TV to show breaking news on CNN.
In the past, in fact, I thought most decisions were rendered on Mondays through Thursdays. 
Right now, the Washington DCC Gay Men’s Chorus sings the National Anthem on the Supreme Court steps, just as it did at Nationals Park.
On Twitter, I upload the PDF for the ruling, joking that SCOTUS much have watched “Bulletproof Picasso” because it can “say what you mean and mean what you say.” That link is here. he official case is Obergefell v. Hodges.  The main reasoning is based on the Fourteenth Amendment and the incorporation doctrine.
States may not limit marriage based on gender and will have to allow same-sex marriages from others states. 
CNN’s master story is here.  Listen to Jeffrey Toobin’s video especially. Chris Johnson’s story in the Washington Blade is here

Same-sex marriage, with all the benefits to partners, is now legal in all 50 states, all territories and the District of Columbia.
The notion of “family values” gets more nuanced.  The personal tension will live between fantasy (driven by reaction to external trappings) and real relationships, with the ability to provide for others and maintain a relationship when challenged by adversity.  But the cultural pinnacle given to traditional sexual intercourse, in the minds of many heterosexual men, gets reduced and unlinked from this moral tension.

There is a theoretical right for reconsideration from the states affected, for about three weeks. 
The progress on marriage has been quick and stunning. In 1997, I published my hypothetical “Supreme Court opinion” on “don’t ask don’t tell”, and marriage was largely seen in terms of civil union.  In fact, I then even advocated a DOMA-like provision to let states experiment on their own, with progress in increments.  In 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas, Justice Scalia wrote a venomous dissent, inappropriate in today’s world (as in Toobin’s comments) and ironically predicted the ruling would lead to gay marriage.  It did.  In 2006, Virginia passed the obnoxious Marshall-Newman amendment, which William and Mary GALA lobbied against.   In the 2008-2012 period, Proposition 8 was all the news. Then came the repeal of DOMA.  Looking back 30 years ago, we were fighting for our political and real lives, literally, given the explosion of the AIDS crisis.  The historical turnaround is full circle.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Major LGBT 50th Anniversary celebration in Philadelphia July 4 weekend

There is a major celebration in Philadelphia from July 2-5, the 50th Anniversary LGBT Civil Rights Movement, link here. Much of the weekend involves an LGBT History exhibit at several venues, as well as VIP events, dances and an outdoor celebration. 

The original “East Coast Homophile Reminders” was formed in part by Frank Kameny in 1965, with its “Annual Reminders”.  Kameny was fired from the US government in 1957 for being gay (discovered by rumor), after President Eisenhower had signed an anti-gay executive order shortly after taking office in 1953, and Huffington “commemorates” the 60th Anniversary of that order here when I was in fourth grade and could not grasp what it could mean.

Monday, June 22, 2015

GOP candidates maintain opposition to marriage equality

Many GOP candidates continue their opposition to marriage equality, most of all Jeb Bush recently, as reported in Florida gay papers and now the Washington Blade by Chris Johnson here. There have been some angry tweets about this today. But the politicians struggle with the idea that any day the Supreme Court could make their views moot. SCOTUS seems to maintaining maximum suspense. 
It’s impossible to maintain that a couple should get special privileges for having a sexual relationship that can lead to procreation without sometimes demanding sacrifice from those who don’t procreate.  It seems like most social animals do this. 


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Center for American Progress offers big story, videos on gay political asylum, mentions 1980 Cuban refugee crisis and effect of past sodomy laws

American Progress has another story asylum for GLBT people, and summarizes the resistance to Cuban refugees back in 1980, which I have written about before, story by Sharita Gruberg and Andrew Satter, link.  The presence of sodomy laws at the time was a serious legal block.
The story doesn’t mention the wide call that went out for individual sponsors that went out in some southern cities, including Dallas, where I was living at the time. 
CAP has a video (105 minutes) of an event hosted by Barney Frank, link here
A second video with individual testimonials can be embedded.

CAP points out that it still  can be difficult for asylees to remain within the country for a long time, but it does not yet get into the question about whether sponsorship should be expected from citizens (as was said in 1980).
The flip side of the question is that some horrific crimes have been committed by immigrants (like Tsarnaev or Wint).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

GLBT pride celebrates "Night Out" at Nationals Park MLB baseball game (Nats get shut out)

This evening, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, Capital Pride 2015 in Washington DC concluded with the “Nationals Night Out” party at the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The Night Out had been coordinated in part by pitcher Max Scherzer's wife Erica May. (Scherzer tossed a one-hit shutout Sunday in Milwaukee during the Pride Festival.) 

The series was part of a “home-at-home” week between the American and National Leagues.  Tuesday night, the Nats had clobbered the Rays 16-4 in Tampa Bay. But tonight, the Rays shut out the Nats 5-0, scoring first with two solo home runs in the fourth inning.  The Nats mustered only two hits off three Tampa pitchers.

The “bar” behind the right field pavilion effectively became a gay bar for the evening. Many partygoers wore red Nats shirts, and many came from Nellie’s Sports Bar.

In the pre-game, a high school baseball player from Montgomery Blair was honored on the jumbo screen.

The Washington DC Gay Men’s Chorus sung the National Anthem a cappella. A uniformed (whites) Naval Detachment was present, which comports with the end of “don’t ask don’t tell” in 2011. 

Rain started in the seventh inning and people started to disperse.
Today, HRC has been tweeting that the Supreme Court decision on the marriage cases may be imminent (Thursday). 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Intelligence agencies quite visible with booths at Capital Pride on Sunday

Sunday, the Capital Pride Festival was a little more modest than in the past, partly due to very hot and humid conditions.  Cloud cover helped at mid afternoon, and thunderstorms came around 5 PM. The Festival was held between 3rd and 7th Streets on Pennsylvania Ave,, right before the Capitol Dome under renovation. 
One of the most interesting displays appeared on the immediate right upon entry.  The intelligence services of the federal government had booths.  I had noted this in writing up the 2013 event, but now the NGA, or National Geospatial Intelligence Agency had its own booth, and the CIA had expanded materials. These included a booklet that deals with sexual orientation. The CIA lifted the ban on gay employees at the end of 1995 (with Clinton’s XO for all civilian agencies), and at the time a relationship between a gay employee and a closeted member of the military under “don’t ask don’t tell” could have posed problems, as I had mentioned in the long Chapter 4 of my first DADRT book. The booklet now says that sexual orientation is not directly asked during security or medical screening, but a background investigation may imply it (as it would for heterosexuals) as intimate partners are checked by a BI. The booklet mentions the DOMA decision and same-sex partner benefits. 
SLDN-Outserve is there, but is largely supplanted by the Military Partners Association, or Military Spouses and Families.

I did not see a lot happening on the stage while I was there.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Capital Pride DC, 40th Anniversary, kicks off with uneventful parade

Washington DC Capital Pride , 40th Anniversary, stepped off on time Saturday with about a three-hour parade.
I got there near the end, at 15th St. and walked back toward 17th.
The Washington Nationals included their political bobbleheads and front office, while the players were in Milwaukee.  That must have led to good karma since the Nats stopped a skid and beat the Brewers 7-2 at about the same time as the march. Nationals Night Out will take place Wednesday, June 17 at Nationals Park against the (American League) Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
After the parade, J.R.’s opened its adjacent lot for the usual block party, had sponsored a kickball tournament all day.  We used to play that in grade school, right?
The Cobalt started it dance immediately – which means it starts about two hours earlier than usual for a Saturday night.
TownDC, which is closer than you think (about 12 blocks or a 20 minute one-mile walk) still advised people to buy tickets in advance for the dance,  that would not start until 11 (after a drag show upstairs).  Why not start earlier?

My first pride march was in NYC in 1973, when it was called Christopher Street Liberation Day. I remember marching then with the Ninth Street Center. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Women's jazz band plays at Arlington VA bar for DC Capital Pride

I got to Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington VA late Friday, and found a women’s jazz band playing, the first time I can recall finding one.
There were two electric pianos (one a 2-octave miniature) and a Bill-Clinton-style saxophone, and some rather non-intimate dancing.
I also found “fun guides” or New York-Fire Island, Montreal-Quebec, Toronto, Baltimore-DC, and San Francisco, that I had never seen before.

But not the biggest night out ever, given that this is DC Capital Pride weekend. Albany NY also has a "Capital Pride".  

Friday, June 12, 2015

National's pitcher's wife supports LGBT night out next week, various charities

The wife, Erica May-Scherzer, of Nationals ace pitcher (acquired as a free agent from the Detroit Tigers) Max Scherzer, will help sponsor the Nationals Night Out on Wednesday June 17, as detailed in a Washington Post story by Dan Steinberg, here.  In the past, the Night Out has reserved an area behind the right field stands.

The Blade has an account by Kevin Majoros, here
MLB has yet to announce an openly gay player in modern times (since Glenn Burke and Billy Bean).


Sunday, June 07, 2015

HRC holds "Saturday Night Fever" event

Last night Human Rights Campaign held a Saturday Night Fever Poolside Party at the Penthouse Pool and Lounge at Vida on U Street and 16th in Washington DC.
The views are spectacular.  A relatively few people came prepared for the pool.  Overhead, a stable but broken cloud deck, illuminated by the city, provided and eerie effect.
I was a little mystified by the bar’s not seeming to have anything but vodka.  That doesn’t sound to healthy.

This was a rather quiet event. 

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Air Force, Army tighten safeguards for discharging transgendered personnel, agree to do so only when military performance an issue, despite technical ban

The Air Force has followed the Army in tightening the administrative procedures under which transgendered members of their uniformed forces may be discharged.  Although the official policy does not allow openly transgendered members to serve, in practice discharges are supposed to occur only when there has been interference with military duty. Furthermore, the authority to discharge enlisted (as well as officer) airmen with “gender dysphoria” will be moved up to the Air Force Review Boards Agency.
The story in the Washington Post by Missy Ryan appears front page on Saturday, June 6, 2015. In another article, Aug. 25, 2014, Dan Lamothe had reported that the US Military could easily lift the ban on transgendered service members (although I can think of practical issues pre-surgery). 
Kristin Beck served as a Navy Seal as a male before retiring and undergoing a change. 


Friday, June 05, 2015

Washington Blade explains why we still need gay bars; I say, parking is an issue in DC

Baltimore Pride (which happens in July) tweeted a Washington Blade editorial, “Why we need our gay bars”, link here.  The article did say that the major DC bars were doing OK financially.  The article responds to the announced closing of the Hippo in Baltimore this fall.
I wrote the following comment:
“Very important points.  I don't go out as often to bars as I used to -- getting older -- but there are more other social opportunities even in mainstream mixed settings than there were a generation ago.  One suggestion to club owners: do something about parking.  Make sure we can find all-night space.  Get together and build a 24-hour garage with security.  I think that in West Hollywood (The Abbey, which actor Timo Descamps likes on Twitter) you park in the library garage $10 a night, and that's it -- no street parking -- that's how it was in 2012.  It works.  The City and club owners should do the same here. “
There is valet parking, sometimes.  I used it in Nashvill once.  I passed up a chance to use it in Detroit.  But in DC, the U Street and 17th St corridors both need 24-hour garages somewhere. 

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Is "Equality" as a buzzword an adequate way to represent LGBT issues?

Is real “equality” possible, or does it make sense?
It’s certainly a nice buzzword, and there are many situations where LGBT “people” (to use the term in a politically correct manner) can be thrust into second-class citizenship, forced to make sacrifices for those who have families through conventional biology.  I’ve talked about how this crept into the workplace, with the paid family leave debate, and how changing demographics and eldercare lead to differential sacrifices.  It’s the tension between those raising families, and those not, that matters the most to me.
As a matter of setting personal priority, focusing narrowly on a politically correct definition of “equality” gives one’s effort (mine at least) a misleading message. It may be a focal point for raising money for non-profits (or for selling books, for that matter), but it doesn’t adequately show what really happens.
Rand Paul is reported as being “offended” by the use of the world marriage in same-sex relationships, but not by equal benefits.  That’s the old “civil union” of a decade ago.  But it seems that, to a lot of people, some sort of recognition for procreative sexual intercourse remains important to them.