Thursday, March 31, 2016

A long DC Metro shutdown on some lines could be very damaging to gay businesses


Once again, we’re talking about transportation infrastructure and how it can adversely affect gay businesses if compromised (Issue blog, today).

There’s a lot of concern after Metro board chairman in Washington DC, Jack Evans (always very supportive of LGBT equality) announced that entire lines might have to be shut down more months at a time for rebuilding. Nightclub businesses (around Dupont Circle, U-street, NE, and possibly in the Navy Yard area) certainly could be adversely affected if public transportation were not available until 3 AM on weekends.  Not only customers, but employees, themselves not rich, have to get there.
Express bus service, running 24x7, might work in the interim in the warmer months of the year (about 8 months of the year in DC are warm enough that outdoor waiting isn’t a problem).

I usually take cabs after midnight, and cab service in the U Street area has improved considerably after new rules went into effect.
 
I have just created an Uber account, have never used it.  The app leaves itself on your iPhone, as if you were ready to use the service in your home right now.  It could become very important to customers during a Metro shutdown, but would be too expensive for employees who depend on the subway.
 
It would be very helpful if business owners would create more 24x7 highrise garages in DC near the areas with bars and restaurants.  It would also help if the City were not so fussy with license renewal.
In Baltimore, by comparison with Washington, parking is usually easy – Penn Station if necessary.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Republican governor of Georgia vetoes anti-gay "religious freedom" bill; NC bill signed


The Republican governor Nathan Deal has vetoed the supposed “religious freedom” bill, saying he could not think of a single instance when legitimate practice of religion had been violated by anti-discrimination bills.  CNN has a story by Ralph Ellis.  Huffington has the story by Jennfier Bendery and Elise Foley
 
The National Football League had threatened to pull a possible 2019 Super Bowl from Atlanta, and several movie companies, especially Walt Disney, protested.  Lionsgate and Summit films are often shot in Georgia (like the “Divergent” series, which is suddenly ironic).

The governor’s action will probably put some pressure on the governor in North Carolina, where the legislature has tried to ban all local anti-discrimination bills over the transgender bathroom issue as addressed by a bill in Charlotte.  The veto might also pressure GOP presidential candidates from making anti-gay remarks (especially on marriage or the military) during the campaign season or at the convention.


Update:

Sorry, N,C. governor Pat McCrory (R) has signed the bill and called the protests "political theater", ignoring the over-breadth of the law, going way beyond bathrooms. However, it seems that his desire to prevent local governments from undermining what he sees as a common sense public safety matter has severe consequences in other areas, and needs to be much more narrowly drawn.  (Note: transgender people can legally use the facility of choice if they change gender on their birth certificate, according to the governor.)

The ACLU and Lambda Legal do plan to litigate against the NC law, AP story.


Also, Vox Media (German Lopez)  reports that a federal judge has struck down the only remaining state same-sex adoption ban, in Mississippi. This will get more attention soon.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

North Carolina house passes "emergency" bill voiding local anti-discrimination notices, particularly in response to Charlotte trans bill


The North Carolina House has passed a bill voiding all local anti-discrimination laws in several areas, providing that only the General Assembly can pass such laws.  The bill was even drafted in a special session. LGBT groups have already threatened to sue, and there has been talk comparing it to Colorado Amendment 2 (Romer v. Evans, 1996) or even a noxious law proposed in Washington State in 1992.

In Georgia, there is another bill based on a religious pretext.  Hollywod, which funds a lot of film development in Georgia (especially for Lionsgate) is pressuring the governor to veto the bill, according to one  CNN report.  But it is Time-Warner (Warner Brothers) and The Weinstein Company putting the most pressure. Timothy Holbrook doesn't mince words as he discusses both North Carolina and Georgia bills, as about blatant discrimination, here.

Before crying Chicken Little, I have to admit I have become somewhat “complacent” in reacting to so many of these “religious freedom” bills from many states, especially in the South, and to bills involving bathroom breaks. But the NC bill is a lot more pervasive.

I somewhat feel that most reputable businesses don’t want these laws and I can frequent them.  And I still take the libertarian position that churches have to be able to follow their own beliefs when it comes to issues like marriages.

On the other hand, the idea of being cast as a second-class-citizen because “I” didn’t participate in reproduction does hit home hard.  That has certainly affected me many times in the past.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hillary Clinton's gaffe on Reagan and AIDS in the 1980s: she should know better, but the CDC was doing its job under Reagan


Kevin Naff has a major editorial in the Washington Blade, “Hillary’s Painful Mistake
 
Naff, whom I met in 2009 at a party after the Blade had been forced to reorganize by the folding of its parent company, gives lots of details about Hillary’s work on the AIDS issue in the past. She should have known better.

Further, even when Bill Clinton took office (and started the long road to ending the ban on gays and eventually transgender in the military – to take 17 years and more) HIV was still far from manageable.  Reagan’s record of personal avoidance must have been clear to her then.  Protease inhibitors didn’t start to work reliably until the mid 1990s, and the side effects remained a real problem until maybe 2000, when it seemed some tweaking made that part of the problem more manageable.

It must be said, however, that the CDC itself worked steadily during the Reagan years.  I would actually meet Jim Curran personally at a meeting in Dallas in late 1982, when AIDS got its name (changed from GRID).  The test was announced in April 1984.  I remember all the loud articles about conspiracy in the New York Native (Charlie Ortleb’s paper, which I actually visited in 1986).  AZT became available around 1987.  The nature of volunteer work would change (for me, with Oak Lawn Counseling in Dallas and Whitman Walker in Washington) as HIV gradually became less of a “gay male disease” than it first had been, and became more connected to poverty (in the West, as well as in Africa).  But it’s hard to see how progress could have been a lot faster than it was – until the late 1990s when the disease was really becoming more manageable.

I also recall the nasty political scene in Texas in 1983, before HIV was identified, when some legislators tried to pass very draconian anti-gay laws, banning “us” from many jobs, in an environment where police raids of bars and false arrests had been common only three years earlier (in 1980).

It’s well to remember this history in some detail.  Especially for presidential candidates.


Update: April 15, 2016

There is a correlated story "comparing" HIV and Zika as to political risk on one of my Wordpress blogs, here.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Suspect captured in Brussels rumored by media sources to have frequently gay hangouts, but purpose is murky


There are numerous stories resurfacing that Salah Abdeslam, captured with others in Brussels today in connection with the Paris attacks on 11/13, had frequented gay bars in an area called “Jacques Quarter”, particularly in the Halloween season before the attacks.  The stories had been mentioned right after the attacks in some tabloids but were largely ignored by major news outlets.

Towleroad gives a pretty detailed summary of all the stories, including a discussion today by CNN analyst Michael Weiss with Brooke Balwdin. According to the story, some bartenders thought he could be a prostitute, or pretending to be one to roll customers, or perhaps commit robberies or look for other targets.  But another theory is that intelligence has floated the story to make it even harder for him to return to Syria and rejoin ISIS, but that was probably unlikely anyway since he “failed” in the attack. ISIS is known, of course, to have brutally executed homosexuals in cities it conquers. And radical ideology often seems aimed at forcing women to bear men children at men's will. 
   
The New York Post had posted a related story about Salah’s reported activities on Nov. 22 here. 

How much of this really holds could become clear as he is interrogated further in France.  The major media outlets (outside of Weiss on CNN) have not continued to report this aspect of the story much this time around. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Quiet St. Patty's Day in Arlington; recalling Rev. Uhrig's essay on "marriage"


Tonight, AGLA had a light Saint Patty’s Day party and karaoke show at Freddie’s Beach Bar in Arlington.

And, for a weekday evening, the Crystal City area was very crowded tonight.

Not a lot happened, but I am given to recalling a paid-ad op-ed written back in 1991 by the late Rev. Larry Uhrig, former pastor of MCCDC (Metropolitan Community Church of Washington DC).

Uhrig would survive a long time with AIDS and continue to work and preach until the end of 1993, well before modern medications made the disease much more manageable.  He would have a major remembrance service on New Year’s Day, 1994, which representatives of the Clinton White House present.

Uhrig wrote a piece “There is no better half.”  That applies now both to traditional marriage and to same-sex marriage.  Uhrig, with a touch of objectivism, almost Ayn Rand like, believed someone had to be his own accomplished person before entering marriage or a real relationship, and not be too much into being made whole by the other person.  Just what marriage “means” now is getting to be a subject of psychological paradox.  It seems as though one has to grow socially enough (in terms of feeling rewarded by doing things for others) to make the rewards and perks of marriage rewarding, once entered into.  But marriage alone is not the force that gets people to grow up.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Equality Virginia provides update at potluck at Arlington library


On Sunday afternoon March 13, Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance held a potluck and book share, with James Parrish, from Equality Virginia, giving an update on the Virginia legislative session. The even took place at the Arlington Central Library.  There was a book bar, and I provided one copy of each of my four books (three DADT and "Our Fundamental Rights").
   
A lot of his presentation was very detailed, and the best source of the information is here on the EV site.   Many of these items are small in scope and not likely to have a lot of effect.  However, Republicans in the legislature seem to have made themselves “veto proof”.

There was some discussion at the end.  I reiterated my point that marriage equality matters even to single people, and that paid family leave needs to be “paid for”.  (See post Feb. 22)

I can remember very critical activism with the Texas legislature in the 1980s during the time that AIDS has provoked a political crisis.

There was bad news: a female attorney assisting EV was killed in a car accident.  I did not get the name.

The owner of Freddie’s Beach Bar will be honored at the EV dinner in Richmond April 16.

Picture:  Downtown, Richmond, Sept. 2015, near bike event.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

"The Boy from Mushin", documentary about a young man who came out in Nigeria, still needs more funds from Kickstarter


There is a film project by Joe Cohen in the UK, “The Boy from Mushin”, about Bisi Alimi, who came out as gay on Nigerian television, and put his life on the line.

The film has a Kickstarter funding source, which is explained here.
 
Nigeria, as has been documented before, apparently has some of the most draconian anti-gay laws in Africa, as in this story.
 


One idea sometimes heard is that homosexuality is “un-African”. This isn’t just about a disconnect from procreation. It’s also about the idea of leadership trying to make the people have they have some special group identity, much as is described in the writings of Eric Hoffer (Book reviews, March 6).

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

LGBT people migrating to red states for jobs, lower living costs


LGBT people are moving to red states, writes Samantha Allen in the Daily Beast.  A shorter story is here. or this map at Consumer Affairs.

That is largely the result of lower cost of living and sometimes more jobs (even Hollywood studios have operations in places like Louisiana, Georgia, Utah, where labor costs are lower), as well as improved political climate.  That’s more than just the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage last June.  Generally, some communities have been more willing to pass anti-discrimination laws (such as Salt Lake City).
 
 I did such a migration myself in 1979, moving from New York City to Dallas, where I lived 9-1/2 years, but enduring the wrath of the religious right (the bar raids in 1980, which never nabbed me, and then the attempt to pass anti-gay laws when AIDS suddenly erupted).

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

SCOTUS invokes full faith and credit in gay adoption case


The Supreme Court invoked full faith and credit in overturning an Alabama state supreme court ruling that refused to recognize an adoption in Georgia of by a lesbian non-biological mother of her former partner’s children after the couple broke up.  CNN has the story by Ariane de Vogue here. The children had originally been born after artificial insemination.
 
The opinion for V.L. v. E. L. is here. The ruling was unanimous but unsigned.
 
In the past, before 2004,  early attempts to sell gay marriage had been predicated on the idea of letting states experiment on their own, without being bound by FFC.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Utah hosts gay wedding expo


Brady McCombs has an Associated Press story, “Utah gay wedding expo connects couples, friendly businesses” reprinted in the Washington Post Monday morning as “Utah expo welcomes LGBT couples” which would suggest that the expo was a general wedding event.  The article notes that LGBT buying power in the US economy is about $884 billion, close to 1 trillion dollars.

Same sex marriage became legal in Utah in 2013.  The Mormon church has slowly moderated its position on homosexuality, which in the past would have been viewed as a challenge to its theory of eternal marriage supported by procreation.  This is really a quick turnaround for a homophobic culture portrayed in the film “Latter Days”.

I am indeed concerned about what happens if Trump, Cruz, or Rubio win the election, on same-sex marriage (although undoing the Constitution is unlikely) and on the repeal of "don't ask don't tell"  and gains for transgender people, which could come back as issues.  However, the most recent statements by Cruz and Rubio have started sounding a little more libertarian, as if reaching for the "freedom" vote rather than the "authoritarian" vote.
 
I’ve been in the area a few times, particularly in 1981 (when I do recall visiting one bar, as well as going to a classical concert in the tabernacle).

Wikipedia attribution for SLC photo by Pasteur - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Thursday, March 03, 2016

LGBT community spotty in support of Trump, despite earlier press stories (don't ask LCR)


Michaelangelo Signorle writes in the Huffington Post, “Gays for Trump: How the Log Cabin Republicans were deluded by a demagogue”.
 
Jonathan Jacob Allen has an article from Reuters, Dec. 15, 2016, “The LGBT Pick for the GOP Nomination: Donald Trump?”   It says that Trump has been more respectful of LGBT than other groups, partly because of his experience in hiring – and having LGBT candidates on the Apprentice, where there were never any issues with sharing hotel space.

Log Cabin Republicans seems a lot less supportive of Trump in its Dec. 8 statement.

And Lou Chibbaro, Jr. writes in the Washington Blade on March 1,  “Trump Courts gay delegates in D.C.” 

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Can a "bachelor" get elected president? (Look ahead to 2020, at least, if we're still around) Why Lindsey Graham is a hawk on national security


Mark Joseph Stern has an article in Slate, from June 15, 2015, “Are rumors about Lindsey Graham’s sexuality ruining his presidentialchances?”  True, this was a few months before primary.  But Graham is a bachelor, who doesn’t go out of his way for a lot of show to please others.  It’s interesting that he was the most vocal of all in reacting to the most reckless of Donald Trump’s proposals about immigration (including committing war crimes).

Graham replaced Strom Thurmond, who headed the Senate Armed Services Committee meetings in 1993, whee Tracy Thorne testified about president Clinton’s plan to lift the ban on gays in the military. (Remember, Thurmond’s “it isn’t natural” line at the hearings, where people cheered in a sickening display.) Graham has a long record in the military himself and is quite hawkish on national security.


No, he is not another J. Edgar Hoover.  But it seems that a lot of people have an expectation of marriage and procreation from our public officials.  It’s not about the presence of something bad, it’s about the absence of something expected.

I dealt with this all my life.
   
Remember James Buchanan?  What if Tim Cook or Anderson Cooper runs for president

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Mattachine Society of Washington now researches LBJ Library in Austin for history of gay purges in the 1960s


The Washington Blade, in the February 26 issue, run a long, booklet length historical narrative by Lou Chibbaro, Jr., “LBJ’s Gay Purge”.   The article complements the mammoth book “Hoover’s War on Gays” reviewed on the Books blog (Feb. 9).

Specifically, the article talks about the research of documents at the LBJ Library in Austin, TX, from the modern resurrection of the Mattachine Society of Washington, headed now by Charles Francis.
 
 The name from the original organization founded in the early 1960s by Frank Kameny.  The site is here  and I will certainly explore it a lot more.

The most famous sacking was that of Walter Jenkins, who ventured into a men’s room at the YMCA near the White House in 1964, when I was living at home and going to GW after my own William and Mary expulsion in 1961 and period at NIH in 1962. Jenkins stayed at GWU Hospital (the old building, where my own mother was a patient once) for “nervous exhaustion”, all of this

Another aide was Robert Waldron, eventually dismissed, though, as a bachelor, having a female companion for show (Jenkins was married with kids).



Civil Service head John Macy referred to homosexuals as “perverts”; Dean Rusk told Mike Wallace in that horrid portrayal “The Homosexuals” in 1967, “when we find homosexuals in the State Department, we discharge them.”  Presidential adviser Bill Moyers, who would go on to become a famous journalist on PBS (especially during the time I worked on my first book) was said to have posted bond for Jenkins.
 
I recall a conversation on an outdoor lawn when working at the old National Bureau of Standards in 1963 (at a site rebuilt as UDC now), a classmate from GWU (now a dermatologist in Boston), saying, “Oh, they don’t want homosexuals working for the government.”  And I would nod my head.