Monday, February 29, 2016

NY Times editorial hits "first amendment defense" state laws against gay couples

The New York Times has chastised the behavior of legislatures of at least eight states, most of all Georgia, for a “First Amendment Defense Act” legislation.

In Georgia, the bill would shield those from legal punishment who refuse to offer services on religious grounds not only to same-sex couples but also interracial couples, or interfaith, or remarried.  They could shield hospitals that don’t allow visitation.

Again, the idea of “family values” has split into segments.  It’s important that people, as they get older and less “attractive”, be able to form and keep relationships that don’t involve procreation but that do allow couples to provide care for one another. In an age of longer lifespans, this is important to lower costs to society.  Interracial relationships, while not to everyone’s personal taste or choice, do help reduce tensions (see Friday’s post).
On the other hand, old fashioned conservatism think that some kind of higher purpose is achieved by limiting all sexuality to procreative sexual intercourse within marriage (see my Issues blog post Feb. 28).

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Some misunderstandings about evangelism and the gay communities

On page 7 of the New York Times review on Sunday February 28, 2016, Molly Worthen asks, "Who ae the gay evangelicals?"  She parallels the fall of ex-gay ministries with the rise of gay marriage, and the neo-conservative idea that everyone should find marriage of some kind and be prepared to raise children.  On the other hand, a major part of the evangelical movement, she says, focuses on abstinence and celibacy (which is still a different beast from “conversion”).

When I lived in Dallas in the 1980s, I certainly saw a lot of Pentecostal behavior at MCC Dallas, even before the Cathedral of Hope was founded.  One of two people really tried to make it a personal mission to "bring me to God" as an emotional experience, particularly on a camping trip in West Texas in 1979.
Back in the 1980s, there was a group called “Evangelicals Concerned”, formed in 1975 by Dr. Ralph Blair    I even met with the group at the home of a male couple in the Dallas area.  Blair visited once, and even mentioned familiarity with the Ninth Street Center in New York City and Paul Rosenfels, where the ideas about monogamy had turned out to be a good thing in the age of AIDS.
My nine years in Dallas seem to contribute a disproportionate amount of material to my columns.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Late winter in the clubs, and some "disturbing behavior"

I got out to a “club” last night, as I tend not to do much of that late at night in the winter these days.  Coat check is a bother and people are over dressed, in DC.  In Minneapolis, on the other hand, people would run outside almost in skivvies when it was 5 above.

It was milder than expected last night as I walked to the Cobalt, where there was a mini-celebration of Beyonce and the Super Bowl (come on – it’s time for baseball and the Academy Awards) at about 12:30 on the little stage.  This is an ordinary late winter weekend, after Mardi Gras, still with time for one more disruptive snowstorm.

There was a troubling, almost unprecedented (for me) incident upstairs.  I was observing a couple at a respectful distance, and a tall man, of a different race, suddenly became very aggressive and persistent.  I had to say “No!” twice (not exactly like Gael Garcia Bernal).  This was especially unlikely because I still had all my winter wraps on (I had not used coat check).  I wondered if I would need to leave early.  It settled down, and I was there until about 1 AM.  The upstairs floor remained packed.

I have noticed that sometimes people (often females) will “challenge me” with some energy in bars if they pick up on my specific “interest” and feel they need to make some sort of example or even a political statement out of private erotic interests.   One time something like this happened in West Hollywood, but it was much less intense than this.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Survey of LGBT voters on presidential candidates prefers Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders

Jason Marchant has a report of a survey of LGBT views on the presidential candidates and party affiliations today, here.

71% reported Democrat affiliation. Only 2% were libertarian. But the voters preferred Hillary Clinton to Bernie Sanders by a 2:1 margin, so there is some preference for “pragmatism” and sticking to policy proposals perceived as actually workable (if not revolutionary).

Monday, February 22, 2016

Why marriage equality matters to "single" people -- some personal history

Marriage equality does matter to single people. I can give several examples.

In my first job, in 1970, married people were paid more TDY when assigned away from home than singles for accommodations, regardless of whether spouses came with them.  This became a source of tension over the year and helped lead to my only layoff (in early 1971) until 2001.

In the past, some jobs were available only to “couples”, such as running some motels (like Motel 6).
In 1993, I was on the permanent nightcall list in production support.  When the night shift programmer had a baby, I filled in a whole weekend without pay (although I later got a bigger raise).  She got paid for my time.  That’s one reason why mandating paid parental leave needs to be thought through very carefully.  I don’t mind when a company that knows what’s doing (Google or Facebook) does it with its associates.

During my period of eldercare for my mother in the 2000s, there were times when people would pressure me into situations more intimate than I was prepared for, and to be more pushy socially in “protecting my mother”.  That’s easier for someone who had courted women, married, and had and raised his own kids first.  Similarly, I experienced some troubling situations when working as a substitute teacher with a need for fathering skills. 

A climate allowing same-sex marriage would give “another me” (in a sci-fi sense) a shot of having the same “family responsibility” as others.  But the past environment could have me subsidizing the sexual intercourse and marital passions (however well-based on the “Song of Solomon”) of others.  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Can gay bloggers safety travel in Russia or in the Middle East? Question came up at a DC Travel Expo today

As I explained earlier this evening on my “International Issues” blog, a travel consultant at the DC Expo today did address the question of openly gay travel in authoritarian countries, at my question from the floor.

It’s well known that in Russia now, public advocacy of homosexuality could get a tourist arrested.  And that seems to be true in some relatively moderate Arab countries (like UAE/Dubai, Qatar, etc), and of course in a number of openly hostile countries in Africa.

But it might be dangerous even for someone who has a lot of material in his or her name on the web or in social media. This consultant seemed to think so.

In January 2015 Priscilla Wilson of “Out Traveler” listed ten places LGBT people should never visit, here.
Russia was on the list, although some other sites still describe a quiet underground gay life in Russia, even after the closing of Moscow’s largest disco because of vandalism and other constant threats.  
I do wonder about countries that have some opulence (like Dubai in UAE) where homosexual behavior is illegal and prosecuted but where it seems discreet travels are probably left alone. Comments?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Rubio's big gaffe on gay marriage: New Hampshire's legislature DID pass it

Here’s a report of a rather rude exchange between Marco Rubio and man in a gay marriage at a forum in New Hampshire, according to Brandon Lorenz on the HRC Blog.

Rubio told the man to have the legislature approve his marriage, not the Supreme Court.  Then he cut the man off when the man said that the New Hampshire legislature had legalized gay marriage in 2009, the same year Obama’s first term began.

This shows how horrible politicians can look when trying to please specific voters they perceive as their base.

But I am concerned about the way both parties want to politicize the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Gay single men can adopt children, but the media coverage is fragmentary; Rubio wants to form panet to overturn gay marriage rulings

It is possible for single individuals, including gay men, to adopt children in many jurisdictions.
Recently I talked to an African-American male in his thirties who had adopted a 12-year-old (presumably African-American) teen four years ago, now 16, in Prince Georges County, Maryland. 

He had volunteered a lot first, and had to pass extensive background checks (including family background).

This topic is not covered a lot yet by major media outlets, besides “exceptional” stories. 
However, even as early as 2003, in some communities, like Minneapolis, there were initiative to encourage singles to adopt.
NBC4-Washington’s “Wednesday’s Child” has not yet covered the topic of gay parent adoptions, especially by singles, as far as I now.  But social norms have changed very rapidly (following  gay marriage) in many communities.  
There's a negative story, that GOP candidate Marco Rubio wants to form a panel to try to overturn the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling(s), link

Monday, February 15, 2016

AGLA social on Valentine's Day; how to explain Scalia's idea of "moral opprobrium"?

Sunday night, Arlington’s Gay and Lesbian Alliance held a Valentine’s Day diner at Freddie’s Beach Bar.

Dinner was on the heated, enclosed porch, and I could see a captioned, alarming report from CBS “60 Minutes” playing.

This event occurred one day after Justice Antonin Scalia passed away on vacation in West Texas.
Scalia was believed to have vitriolic anti-gay attitudes.  He denies this. What he says in interviews is that he follows what he sees as the letter of the Constitution.  He disagrees with the widely accepted (judicially mainstream) views of substantive due process, and of the idea of strict scrutiny to protect individuals from intrusive local and state (under incorporation doctrine) and federal laws.

But in writing dissents on recent gay-related opinions or concurrences in the past, he mentions a public “moral opprobrium” against homosexual conduct (which would have included the military, of course).  He seems to feel that a public opprobrium alone is enough “rational basis” for democratically passed laws against homosexual conduct, without having to examine or rationalize “what lies beneath” the disapproval.  We’ve seen that paradigm before, such as in Peter Wyden’s 1968 (pre-Stonewall) book “Growing Up Straight”, where public attitudes seem to be their own tautological justification.

Remember the wording in the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick opinion, where Berger wrote about the “ancient roots” of disapproval of homosexual behavior, without bothering to explain the roots further.
Scalia did “correctly” predict that overturning homosexual-only sodomy laws could pave the way to legal acceptance of gay marriage in only a few years.

Before Stonewall, the opprobrium seemed to result from a mixture of factors:  parents, lacking real individual opportunities, wanting the maximum opportunity for biological lineage (and birthrate is a big factor in Russia’s homophobia today);  a belief that many women would not find husbands and become poor;  a belief that men would not be able to “bond” properly to protect women and children (the military issue).  This could be masked by religion ("evangelical Christianity" or Vatican theology), where people believe what they are told to believe by authorities in their lives. A lot of this has largely gone away for “richer” people with more education and higher living standards.  Public health came into the picture in the 1980s with right-wing speculations about AIDS, but none of that was ever mentioned in any Supreme Court opinions.
I can remember some comments about Scalia back in 1986 at a dinner in Dallas (was it at the Bell Pepper) with a PWA, ordering cheese omelet (doing well at the time, but he would succumb in 1987), saying that illness could happen to Scalia, too.  But Scalia’s end seemed to be peaceful, the way anyone would want it.  

Lambda Legal did provide this statement on the passing of Scalia.
Kevin Naff, of the Washington Blade, writes in an op-ed (Feb. 19) "Relieved that Scalia can no longer judge us."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

"Warm Weather Social" at the site of the former "Mr. P".

Last night, “Go Gay DC” which bills itself as “Metro DC’s LGTBQ Community Club” held a “Warm Weather Social at “Aura” on P Street, near 23rd, and also directly W of Dupont Circle. This is the second floor of a property that also runs a Moroccan restaurant.  As the event ended, snow showers and a strong cold front moved into the DC area. The site used to be the home of a bar called "Mr. P's".

I tried the restaurant, and tried the salmon.  There is a lot of décor similar to an exhibit at Epcot in Orlando. The service was slow.

But the gathering was festive enough.  The space seems to have a small dance floor and movie theater, and a lot of mid-eastern décor.  All of this tracks back to some of the hypocrisy of the Arab world.  Morocco was at one time viewed as a “cruising destination” which is something that the religious culture of the area does not appreciate.

There were some connections, maybe even to the community assistance effort in north Arlington once a month at a local Methodist church,

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

GOP Georgia representative thinks that bullying and hazing are good for you

A Georgia bill to prevent anti-gay discrimination in public accommodations has failed, according to the Georgia Voice , but the real story comes from a publication called “Creative Loafing”: Republican state representative Tom Weldon is quoted as saying, “bullying makes you stronger”.  
This seems to be a throwback to mentality where college hazing (or “tribunals” as they were called at William and Mary in 1961) was seen as making young men more resilient, and more able to conform to heterosexist expectations, no matter what.   (It might take hair off your legs.) 

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Libertarianism on accidental display at AGLA social in Ballston

This was not a “big” event, but Friday evening, early, AGLA (Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance) held a social in the Pinzimini Lounge in the Westin Hotel in Ballston in Arlington.  

What was a little unusual was that Mary Ruwart’s libertarian thesis “Healing Our World: The Compassion of Libertarianism” (2015 version of her HOW book) was “on display” at the gathering because I had just picked it up from a nearby UPS store, just coincidence, and walked over with it.  I may be the pseudo-distinguished author with my “Do Ask, Do Tell” series, but Mary Ruwart’s is perhaps a companion.  However, Ruwart deals only with economic policy issues, with no mention of gay issues (like marriage).

Also on display was a spinach pizza pilaf (without a miniature toy chair from a train set – private joke).

Today (Sunday), I had an “accidental” public speaking engagement, pimping my own book under the table (see main blog).

Tentatively, we’ve set a book party for AGLA for me in April.  More details to come.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Facebook's birthday gives us reason to recall Harvard and the military recruiter controversy

Today, since it is Facebook’s birthday (and as I wrote a post about such on my main blog) I thought about the political climate at Harvard when Mark Zuckerberg was attending there (before founding Facebook), and the idea that he must have been aware of the controversy over protesting military recruiters on campus under “don’t ask don’t tell” and then challenging the Solomon Amendment.  All of this came about when Elena Kagan, now a Supreme Court justice, was a dean of Harvard Law School, and protested the recruitment (the school eventually relented).  She would face questions during her confirmation hearings, as detailed on Politifact.   NPR also has a story here.

It's interesting that Kagan's views took into account the national importance military service and the sacrifice such service can imply.  In earlier decades, military recruiters had been shunned because of the Vietnam War.
The topic seems a bit timely to me now also because on Tuesday, February 2, the Senate Armed Services Committee held hearings on whether women should be required to register for Selective Service (Issues blog, Feb. 3).

Monday, February 01, 2016

Gay history resources, in DC, FL, and with National Archives

At a social gathering for AGLA Sunday night near Freddie’s Beach Bar in South Arlington VA near Crystal City (yes, the snow banks in the neighborhood had melted enough that I could park) I did learn of a couple of resources.

One is the Rainbow History Project in Washington DC, which has an online exhibit and Oral Histories.

Another is the Stonewall Museum in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Incorporating the Stonewall National Education Project.

Of course, the material in my three “Do Ask, Do Tell” books could be valuable at both places and I will be looking into these and contacting them soon.  One is local for me, and another could conceivably justify travel at some point.

I also learned that the National Archives has an exhibit on the history of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  as part of the David M. Rubenstein Gallery Record of Rights.  I will visit the facility soon (but there is no photography allowed, due to photoflash sensitivity of documents).

Tentatively, I expect to talk about my books at the Arlington County Library Sunday April 3.  There will be more details later.