Saturday, April 30, 2016

Washington Post describes anti-gay parts of the world after Bangladesh murder

The Washington Post has a welcome editorial on persecution of LGBT populations in non-democratic countries, link here.  The piece is motivated by a news story of a horrific home invasion in Bangladesh and hatchet murder of a journalist supporting gay rights.  The Washington Blade has a story on the Bangladesh incident, where Kerry has asked the government of that Islamic country to investigate the murders.

The editorial points out that horrific treatment of some LGBT populations is hardly limited to the Islamic world.  Russia is a prime example, as are some Christian countries in Africa.  What’s apparent is that in many cultures, especially more secular ones like in Russia, there is not only a tendency for dictators to look for scapegoats for their own failed economic policies, there is also a belief that toleration to acceptance of LGBT populations will mean fewer babies and make a country weaker (this is most notably true in Russia). In many people’s minds, participation in procreation and child rearing is a bigger moral requirement than fidelity to a marriage someone already has entered.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Food and Friends has "Dine Out for Life"; bathroom bills affect "gender non-conforming" women

I see that Food and Friends has a regular Blogspot blog and an entry for its “Dine Out for Life” in the Washington DC area, Thursday April 28, 2016, link here.  One of the restaurants is Freddie’s in Crystal City in Arlington; the owner was honored recently at the Equality Virginia dinner in Richmond.

I’ll add a perspective by Steven Petrow “A ‘restroom bill’s’ other victims”, the Washington Post style section, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, here. The online title is more telling, “’Bathroom bills’ focus on the trans community but could affect another group more”.  That is, “gender non-conforming” – especially girls who are taller or more athletic than usual, or who don’t conform to conventional societal beauty expectations (often imposed by heterosexual men), like shaving their legs.


Picture from last night's dinner at Freddie's (a buffet, rather brunch-like, for $35, with a 110% match for Food and Friends).

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Zakaria interviews prominent "lesbian" moderate Muslim; more on NC bathrooms

Today, Fareed Zakari presented Irshad Manji on his Global Public Square program on CNN, introducing here as “gay” as well as advocating free thinking in Islam. This was part of Zakaria's preparation for a Monday night special "Why they hate us" -- and CNN has a habit of delaying its special reports when anything "happens".

Manji related a story of being told in school, “you believe what we tell you to believe, or you leave”.
She then discovered the “public library” (yes, “it’s free”), where she learned that in the past Islam had a tradition of open inquiry of faith.

Manji also discussed the "72 virgins" idea, saying that the word for "virgin" might really have mean't "raisin" and that the number 72 doesn't really appear in the Koran.

Within the Christian world, the Baptist denomination has a similar paradox, with a tradition of individualized exploration of faith despite an authoritarian ministerial structure within the Southern Baptist Convention, the “buckle of the Bible belt” and the source of anti-gay rhetoric in the past.

I do have a little more reaction to the North Carolina bathroom bill mess.  I don’t think one becomes a “bigot” by maintaining that a state can reasonably require, through normal legislation, that every person use the bathroom consistent with what is on his or her birth certificate, if the person is allowed to change gender officially once the actual medical process has started.  That’s the case in N.C.   It sounds like a sensible idea for public safety, even if any “threat” is obviously remote. The problem is that the NC law, which the governor says he is trying to reverse partially, had been set up so that all local laws about discrimination in any area were invalidated automatically, as a partially “unintended consequence”.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

New study based on CDC data shows that, at least with lesbian families, "The Kids Are All Right"

Nanette Gartrell, M.D., from UCLA, representing the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study, has produced a survey showing that children growing up in families of lesbian couples do as well as those raised in closely matched (demographically and situationally) heterosexual families, in an “apples to apples” comparison.

The study is published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

The study used data from a CDC survey of the National Survey of Children’s Health.
Nadia Kounang wrote the story for CNN.  The story had an illustration of a male couple raising kids from Modern Family.

What remains to be studied or debated is, how much should the opportunities for same-sex adoption be promoted, as opportunities for placing “Wednesday’s children.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lambda Legal has DC fundraiser; Washington Post pubs big story on bar-restaurant-soft-target security and DHS meeting with business owners

Last night, I did patronize a Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund money raiser ($50) on the Patio and ground floor of Town.

Unlike many other fundraisers, this one had no hors d’oeuvres.  So I walked over the Nellies Sports Bar a block away for dinner, and found everyone talking about Bryce Harper’s grand slam home run and the four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves.  And the Washington Caps hockey game was about to start, which the Caps would win, 2-0.  I still haven’t been to a pro hockey or basketball game yet, not quite as interesting.  (Soccer and pro football, yes, despite Malcolm Gladwell.)

Lambda Legal’s case work is probably getting narrower in scope, as skirmishes still flare over “religious freedom” laws and transgender issues.  We don’t have the big existential questions of a few years ago (“don’t ask don’t tell”), but I fear that the “wrong” president could cause them to come back.  Donald Trump I’m now more concerned about, as well as Ted Cruz (although the latter’s most recent comments sound more libertarian).  Cruz is the only candidate so far to discuss the possible implications of WMD’s (next paragraph).  Kasich has accepted modern reality (in his best interest).  Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson may be closer to electability than any such candidate from the past.

There’s a very disturbing story on the front page of the Style Section of the Washington Post (paywall) this Friday, April 15, 2016, by Dan Zak, “Alert Level Green” (referring to the old red-orange-yellow-blue-green threat advisory).  I have not wanted to discuss bar security very much here.  The article discusses meetings near the White House between Homeland Security, the FBI, and business owners.  For the most part, the article can speak for itself.  I won’t go through the names here, although I have to say that back in 1971 I took a heterosexual date to the Black Cat!   It isn’t hard to “connect the dots” with recent history in France and Belgium (since the start of 2015, especially), and imagine what they had to talk about.  The bar owners did say that the fake-id problem proliferates (a problem that was demonstrated back in 2004 in a episode of “Everwood”, and which affects the backstory of my own “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenplay).  I don’t think that the NRA’s idea (maybe the Libertarian Party’s) that every law abiding citizen should be able to defend himself or herself in any public soft venue is very realistic; no sports facility or bar or disco wants to allow weapons when there can be hundred to thousands of people in a place in close proximity.  Airport-style screening for weapons is done now at Nationals Park without causing delays;  it may be practical for some larger discos, maybe larger theater multiplexes.  In the US, the biggest problems haven’t come from “radical Islamic terrorism” (to use the words of Ted Cruz), they’ve come from mentally ill people with weapons.
Western style “democratic capitalism” has made enemies, though, by creating a world that doesn’t make sense to some people – at least I could see that with some lower income students when I worked as a substitute teacher, which I’m too “busy” for right now.  There is a tendency for some radical cultures to hold individuals morally responsible for what the cultures they depend on do.  That notion seems to me to be a little more pronounced in “radical Islam” than even in extreme “religious right” forms of evangelical Christianity.  The more “group centered” a culture is, the more homophobic it usually is.
Given the controversy of this story, DC Metropolitan Police are now heavily covering major clubs in DC on weekends.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Has Kasich tried to become "acceptable" to LGBT voters?

John Kasich took a moderate tone on gay issues last night in the family town hall (with his wife and two daughters) and moderator Anderson Cooper (openly gay in the sense that he was never “in”).
CNN included his remarks on a longer story about the GOP nominating process which I posted on Facebook.

He said, if you were a gay couple and a particular bridal shop didn’t want to service you, then you would probably go down the street to another one.   If you worked as a photographer and didn’t want to do a gay wedding or cover a story on transgender surgery, you shouldn’t have to.  That’s pretty much the libertarian position.  He also said that he had attended one gay wedding in Ohio with his family (of a close family friend) himself and personally had no problem doing so.

But he thought that conservative politicians were touting a phony idea of “religious freedom” to draw more attention to themselves and create more tension among voters.  The law is settled, and doesn’t need to remain a political or “religious” spectacle in the courts or state legislatures.

However, an HRC story in February seemed much less welcoming to LGBT people. What does he really believe?  Is he moderating his position to be a more acceptable mainstream candidate?

Thursday, April 07, 2016

US military is slow to move on transgender integration

The New York Times has an editorial Wednesday, April 7, 2016, arguing that the Department of Defense and Ashton Carter are moving too slowly on providing the ability for transgender soldiers to serve fully and openly in the military.

The NYT provides some detailed analysis. What's apparent is that in some individual cases, transgender soldiers will be fully capable of combat, just as it is likely that someday we'll see a transgender player (especially a pitcher) in MLB.
But things have come a long way.  Five years ago we were still concerned about completing the certification process to end “don’t ask don’t tell”.

And there is a natural concern that some of the GOP candidates (especially Cruz and Trump, but probably not the more “moderate” mainstream candidates who could be nominated at an open convention in Cleveland in July) might even try to undo the 2010-2011 repeal, given their own concepts of “military readiness” and “unit cohesion” (the ultimate buzzword) in carrying out anti-terrorism operations overseas (especially in Middle Eastern and African countries) and in standing firm against Vladimir Putin’s Russia (with its anti-gay propaganda law, ironically).  Cruz is actually hard to figure, because some of his recent statements have veered much more toward libertarianism, which could be good for LGBT people.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

NC "warned" by Paypal on anti-gay law; MS passes law that ties religious beliefs to biological gender

Paypal has canceled a planned expansion to Charlotte, in response to North Carolina’s gratuitous “anti-gay law”, as German Lopez explains in Vox here.

In the mean time, Mississippi has passed and the governor has signed a “religious freedom” bill that outlines the three specific religious beliefs that will be honored by the bill. (1) Marriage is between a man and a woman (2) People are born assigned to a specific biological sex and not free to change it and (3) Sex is only for procreation within marriage.  Elliot C. McLaughlin reports on CNN here. A guest on CNN pointed out that a person could be reported to an employer as trans and fired for using the wrong bathroom in almost any state with a law like this.

Protect thy Neighbor has some more commentary on the bill here.

Update: April 8

The Washington Time has a front page article by Bradford Richardson indicating that Paypal and Apple, among other companies critical of North Carolina's (and Mississppi's) recent laws, operate in countries far more hostile to gays.  Paypal has extensive operations in Malaysia, and most tech companies try to do business in countries like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, China, Singapore, and often Russia.  In practice, the ability to work overseas in non-democratic countries is a major workplace issue.

Update: April 14

The governor is calling for modification of the reach of the bill into other discrimination, and has signed an executive order restoring some anti-discrimination protections at least for state employees. The governor is caught in a "crossfire" of the GOP civil war (Washington Post story). 

Friday, April 01, 2016

Major gay publication criticized for "laying off" older reporter in apparent attempt to appeal to young audiences

I haven’t looked at Frontiers Magazine in a while, but remember it;  I was shocked to see the story where the Florida publication “laid off” (fired) a 66-year-old reporter Karen Ocamb, as related in this story in Lgbtqnation (by Bill Browning), creating a sensation and indignation on Facebook.    She was even called in from vacation for a “five-minute meeting”.

The story goes into the publication’s desire to appeal to advertisers who sell to “millennials”.  The problem is,, LGBTQ publications need the knowledge base of older people, who remember what it was like when society really did make our private lives their business, with bar raids, firings, expulsions from the military, denied security clearances, and the like (let alone AIDS in the 1980s).

The debate hasn’t always neem framed in terms of marriage equality or transgender bathroom visits.
I see this all the time socially.  People in their 20s have no idea what it – “The Normal Heart”  used to be like.