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.