Friday, June 30, 2017

Texas Supreme Court flouts federal gay marriage law with a unanimous decision

In a shocking decision, the Texas State Supreme Court has ruled, 9-0, that the Obergefell decision does not guarantee same-sex spouses state benefits.  The Dallas News has a detailed story here.

The case arose from a lawsuit against Houston for extending the benefits.

It’s pretty hard to see any rational basis for this decision, other than some kind of states’ rights theory.

But it could run into the Full Faith and Credit clause.

Lambda Legal also reported this case today, with a warning about Gorsuch’s behavior on the Supreme Court so far.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Town DC will close on July 1, 2018

Town Danceboutique will close on Sunday, July 1, 2018, after more more year of operation.  The disco has operated since 2007.  The property was sold in the Spring of 2016 for an apartment complex.  The best link right now is here on Twitter/

Even so, the club recently put in a patio (as I recall, in 2015).

This is plenty of notice, more than the Hippo had in Baltimore.

There are two or three new but smaller clubs (like the Uproar) nearby which may take up some of the clientele. I’ve seen the Eagle dance floor once (on the Memorial Day “Bryce Harper Gate”) but I don’t know how well it is doing.

But the Town essentially replaced the Velvet Nation, which closed in mid 2006 while Nationals Park was being built.   And Velvet Nation had replaced Tracks, nearby, one of the best bars ever (remember the Volleyball Court) in the 1990s.  One wonders if there would be space for nightlife along the Anacostia after the soccer stadium, next to Nats Park, is built, or if RFK is renovated.

  Another possibility could be the new Ballston Quarter in Arlington; the local population would probably support a bar.

The problems with the Metro and the midnight closings since mid 2016 don’t seem to have been a factor.  But parking in the area has become difficult, with space running out on the lot.

Dance clubs often operate on leased space and wind up eventually getting evicted by developers.  It's not terribly efficient for a property to remain unused most weeks except Friday and Saturday nights.  It may be more efficient to rent hotel or even casino ballroom space for dance events in many cases.


Town's website has the story.  It's worthy of note that the text of the story says "the spring of 2018".  July 1, 2018 is in the summer, but would follow Pride in 2018 and allow one last big bash.

Washington Blade has the story;  comments explain the behind-the-scenes sales of the property.  Often, bar venues are leased in industrial properties and lose leases when the properties are sold to be raised and redeveloped.  Bizjournal gives the details here.

It looks like I missed Baltimore Pride June 17-18;  it had been in July the past two years.  I was at the AFI-Docs instead.  Baltimore could use a replacement for the Hippo, but that's very hard to do in this economy and regulatory environment.

Monday, June 26, 2017

SCOTUS rules for same-sex couple on birth certificate case from Arkansas; will hear "wedding cake" case next term; the libertarian side

The Supreme Court this morning reversed the Arkansas Supreme Court and ruled (6-3) that a state must list both parents of a same-sex marriage when one partner has a child or adopts one.  Presumably this could include surrogacy.   The case is Pavan v. Smith.  The SCOTUS opinion is here.

Judge Gorsuch dissented and seemed to believe that the entire panoply of marriage benefits is not completely settled law.

The Court agreed to hear a case from Colorado where a wedding cake seller refused to offer a cake to a same-sex married couple. The basic idea is that the business is a public accommodation and cannot discriminate on the basis of many other categories.  It probably could not use religious shield for an interracial marriage.

Here is the Washington Post story by Robert Barnes, link.

There is a possible twist in public accommodations law where I can see the “libertarian” argument. Suppose I am a small book self-publisher and the law requires me to make large print or braille or audio versions of my books to be able to sell them at all, to avoid indirect discrimination (against the visually disabled).  Maybe this would never happen with “smaller” businesses; but I do see the conservative side, but not from a religious perspective.

If appears that Justice Kennedy probably will not retire this summer (good news).

The Blue Moon bar in Reboboth Beach has a doll of Donald Trump in drag.

Update: June 30

Lambda Legal reports that Gorsuch dissented on the Arkansas, not good news. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

5th Circuit punts on Mississippi religious freedom law; Lavender scare apology law introduced

The Washington Blade has at least two important stories today.

The 5th Circuit in New Orleans let stand a Mississippi “religious freedom” law because the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue (Chris Johnson story).  The law would have allowed religious organizations and medical providers to deny services in certain circumstances based on religious beliefs.  State employees could defer themselves from issuing marriage licenses.  The court said it would consider a case where plaintiffs had suffered "stigmatic harm".
The case catches my attention because in 1985 the 5th Circuit overturned a favorable 1982 ruling by Judge Buchmeyer in the Baker v. Wade case on the old Texas 21.06 sodomy law.  The court had mentioned “moral values”.

U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) has introduced a “lavender scare bill” to provide apologies and expunge personnel records of those fired from the State Department in the 1950s during the Cold War.  The same attitude helped contribute to my own William and Mary expulsion in 1961.  Story by Michael Levers here.

Dean Rusk told Mike Wallace of CBS that the State Department "discharges" homosexuals as late as 1967 on  notorious CBS documentary "The Homosexuals".  I started working for the NBS (Commerce) in 1963 and there was certainly a pervasive anti-gay attitude ("removal" for "sexual perversion" was in Civil Service regulations).

The policy reminds one of the career of Frank Kameny, fired from a government Army map service in 1957.

It's interesting that the British government has apologized to the estate of Alan Turing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

GOP Florida governor backs down on LGTBQ protections after honoring Pulse victims

Equality Florida has noted that Florida governor Rick Scott ( R ) has refused to issue an executive order protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, despite other proclamations “Pulse Remembrance Day” on June 12, story.  This includes a refusal to protect state employees.

The announcement was sent out as a press release today.

It’s also important to remember that the Pulse attack occurred on a Latino event night.
In other news, a minority group in Washington has started a retail business called “Check It” in the Anacostia area of Washington DC.  The story appeared on WJLA this evening.  I’ll report after I can make a visit by Metro.
There was also a small demonstration for asylum seekers and refugees today in DC; more details to come.  The group wants the Trump administration to allow 75000 refugees to enter the country in 2017.  More details will follow later.

Friday, June 16, 2017

US Department of Commerce removes explicit LGBT protections from policy statement

The United States Department of Commerce has removed explicit LGBTQ protections from its policy statement.  The department says this will not change anything in practice.  But why was the wording retracted?  The Washington Post has a story (by Juliet Eilperintoday. Will other federal departments behave in a similar fashion?

My first job, starting in August 1963, was at the National Bureau of Standards on the old Federal City campus at Van Ness in Washington DC (now UDC), before it moved to Gaithersburg.  I stayed there about a year.  My most recent external job was with Census, 2010-2011.

It's worth a visit to Federal Globe's website.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Transgender woman becomes first candidate to win a primary, at least in Virginia

In Virginia, a trans woman Danica Roem has won a Democratic primary to face “transphobic” Republican incumbent Bob Marshall, story here.

Much of her district encompasses Prince William County, from Manassas to Woodridge.
It is certainly becoming more likely that transgender persons would be regarded as fit for office, like “Lady Valor” Kristen Beck.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Memorial candlelight service for Pulse Orlando held in Washington DC, Dupont Circle

Monday evening I attended, at Dupont Circle in Washington DC, the Candlelight Service for Victims of the Pulse Orlando terror attack on 2016/07/12, one year to the date of the attack, which had started at 2.02 AM EDT.

The event was in part sponsored by the Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, whose link is here.

A male speaker for the fund said he had served in the Army in Iraq and made the argument that military weapons have no place in civilian hands.    The speaker also noted that the event at Pulse that night had been intended as a Latino party.

Later Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke.

A family member of one of the victims spoke, and she rebutted the argument that had patrons of the bar been armed, they could have defended themselves.  Of course, this might not work against military weapons and no business owner (of a bar or movie theater) wants to allow weapons on the premises. But she said that the idea that you think you need to carry a weapon is an admission of fear, an existential statement that you are on your own, and that you live in a precarious, unstable society based on the use of force. That idea can be a predecessor of fascism.

The Washington DC Gay Men’s Chorus sung twice.

There was a reading of the victims’ names, 49 deaths, with a bell ring for each one.  I do not normally name victims in my own blog postings or videos unless I have a separate personal connection to the person.  This has to do with my own personal values;  I don’t want to “sell” victimization.
There was also mention of the medical expenses of some of the injured.  Florida does have a crime victims’ compensation fund which as covered a lot of this.  I had said before that civilians injured by military weapons should have access to US military surgeons and rehab if medically necessary.  Does that let the rest of us off the hook?
Speakers did try to encourage people to join the Pride Fund.  There was also mention of some specific partisan political races and their behavior with regard to the NRA.  While I am happy to link to organizations online, I generally don't film or report or urge detailed fundraising myself, especially for partisan political purposes, in my own reporting.
There is more video that I took at this Wordpress location.

The Pulse property will become a museum and memorial, here.  It is not clear if the club will reopen at a different location as a disco.

I had visited the club on July 12, 2015, eleven months before, leaving around 2 AM, so this could have happened to me (I was on a visit to Orlando to visit Disney and Universal).  A good friend had been there just two weeks before the attack.  It can happen to anyone.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Equality March goes smoothly from my viewpoint; a hot, humid, and very crowded Pride Festival

I did “join in” the Equality March for Unity and Pride in Washington DC Sunday morning, as it turned the corner around the Treasury Building and headed town 15th St toward Constitution Avenue.

The march seemed somewhat uneventful.  But there were some curious signs, such as one about “intersectional resistance and collective liberation”.  For the Left, everything seems to be about the group and the people, not the individual.

There were the expected signs demanding impeachment of Trump, and also about being ignored (but that’s what belonging to a group can mean).

The march went East on Constitution Ave (the Memorial Day parade goes east to west).

The Pride Festival was packed all day.  I was there two different periods.  The heat and crowd made it difficult to find some booths, and the Guide did not give precise locations.

The main alcohol section as up front near the stage, and still with long line at 6:30, a half hour before closing.

Despite “No Justice No Pride”, plenty of corporations were present, as were the FBI and CIA, seeming to seek gay and trans employees (for the CIA, trans or fluid could be an asset).

On a side street, around 6th NW near the Newseum, there was another bar area with a disco dance floor.  The Baltimore block party often had a similar concept.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Capital Pride rerouted by "No Justice No Pride" protest; Trump to speak with Pence at anti-gay group to honor Pride month

I just got back from Capital Pride Saturday.  My cell phone ran down because there were so many people it kept hanging trying to visit anything.

NBC Washington reports that a group called “No Justice No Pride” stalled the march, refusing to move, and forcing rerouting one block south to Scott Circle.
The parade went past First Baptist Church of Washington DC, where a wedding was delayed because the bride and groom could not get to the church through suddenly closed streets.  I attend that church.

A member of the Texas Rangers baseball team appeared near the church in uniform, about an hour after the Rangers had won a come-from-behind game against the Nationals 6-3, where the Nats blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth.  The game had started at noon to accommodate Pride. (The Orioles lost horribly to he Yankees in NY, 16-3).

I did manage to get a picture on Facebook off about England’s parade exhibit, which I eventually marched with.  The picture was liked, and then I heard rumors today of May being forced out of office in Britain.

There were signs “Make America Gay Again”.

Late there was the usual block party at JR’s and the dance at Cobalt started at 9 PM.

I think I spotted members of the Congressional Chorus in the crowds.

Trump is speaking at an anti-LGBT group, the Faith and Freedom Foundation, Monday, link.  Pence will be at his side.  Maybe Trump doesn't listen to Jared Kushner.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Hardhitting article from Los Angeles slams white gay men even for not wanting to date outside of their race (or at least saying so)

Is it racism to claim you will not date or fall in love with someone of a different race?  Pater Laarman makes that shocking assertion in an article in LA Progressive, “When a Pride March Means Owning the Shame of Racial and Economic Justice”, link here.    This gets very personal, about what turns you on.  There is a Daily Beast piece about race and dating apps here.

He also talks about the damage of gentrification of poor neighborhoods, speaks out against the cis male attitude, and targets successful gay men like Anderson Cooper and Andrew Sullivan. He may not be aware that Anderson’s own genealogy turned up a slave in his background: he turned up 1/16 black, I think.  Obama is ½ white.

It’s pretty easy to imagine that either Anderson Cooper or Tim Cook would be quite fit to become president of the United States, but so would Kristin Beck (the “Lady Valor” transgender former Navy Seal).

I’m reminded of the “no fats, no fems” of personal ads of the past. Or of Milo Yiannopoulos and his fat shaming.

I got this piece in an email from Don Kilhefner, “gay tribal elder”. Sorry, call yourself tribal plays into Donald Trump’s hands.

I’m also reminded of black gay CNN anchor Don Lemon, who authored his “pull up your pants” lecture to young black men in inner cities.

See related story May 28.

Update: June 23

Huffington Post has a "reverse body fascism" attack by Donovan Trott, "An open letter to gay white men: No, you;re not allowed to have a racial preference", link.   Milo Yiannopoulos weighs in here.  I'll take this up on Wordpress soon (it's in Chapter 2 of my DADT III book in 2014), with more moral vanity.  It's a lot to take in right now. 

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Trump administration wants to reinstitute ban on transgender people in uniform

The Trump administration is apparently stalling or wants to stop initiatives to accommodate transgender troops in the military, according to the Military Times. The demographic is seen as much smaller than the gay cis-male and lesbian population, and is viewed as harder to integrate given the current state of social progress.
The Palm Center at USCB has issued a statement, where retired generals urge General Mattis not to reinstate DADT for transgender troops.

The Hill has a story by Rebecca Kheel, here.

The Pentagon does seem to be aware of the accomplishments of Kristin Beck. Now 50, who came out as male-female transgender after finishing service as a Navy Seal.  It’s pretty obvious from her background that Kristin is qualitied to serve as POTUS; she was the subject of the CNN biography “Lady Valor”.
In early 1994, male-female sailor was discharged from the Navy but allowed to fill the same position as a civilian in Naval Intelligence. She also became lesbian by the change (she had been heterosexually married as a man).

The DADT Repeal of 2011 did not include transgender.  

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

New York Times Magazine focuses on HIV resurgence among black gay men in US; drastic Trump budget cuts on HIV work

The New York Times Magazine has a booklet-length insert “America’s Hidden H.I.V. Epidemic”, by Linda Villarosa, link.

She asks why to America’s black gay men have the highest rate of H.I.V. infection in the world?
She gives a recapitulation of AIDS history from the 1980s, which I have covered many times before.

Chris Johnson has an analysis in the Washington Blade on cuts in HIV programs in Trump’s budget, as “shocking and cruel”.  Ironically, it’s the economically better-off gay men who will realize the seriousness of funding for PrEP and protease inhibitors.

Monday, June 05, 2017

DC eases law on surrogate parenting

Michael Alison Chandler has an important story in the Metro section of the Washington Post about Washington DC’s recent repeal of a law banning surrogacy contracts, story here.   This makes it easier for same-sex couples, and infertile couples (possibly including elderly) to start families.

Some states have laws allowing the natural mother a certain period of time in which she does not have to give up the baby.

This is not something I would do personally.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Two NOVA events Friday; Richmond-based gay publication helps get Gavin Grimm recognized by Time Magazine

I went to two social gatherings late Friday, something I don’t do very often in one day anymore,

First, in the late afternoon I paid a visit to Lake Anne Brew House on the village commons around the lake in Reston, VA, sponsored by NOVA Pride.  It was small, informal;  drinks and snacks, no food.  There were outdoor restaurants around, all crowded.  There was a cat hospital in the archway entering the area.

Then I did go to AGLA-s first Friday social at Penzimmi’s in the Weston Hotel in Ballston, and was privileged to meet Justin Ayars, JD, now the Publisher and Editor in Chief of “UniteVAMag” (“United Virginia Magazine”), based in Richmond, with the tag wordmark, “Equality Through Storytelling” (sounds like a good potential trademark to me).

Justin has his own blog entry, “Virginia’s Exclusive Interview with Gavin Grimm”.  This interview helped motivate Time Magazine to name  Gavin as one the world’s most 100 influential people in 2016. Gavin’s Time Magazine article is here.

Justin told me his undergraduate degree is from William and Mary, where my own long narrative stared as I was expelled by the Dean of Men on Nov. 28, 1961, after he had called me in the day after Thanksgiving and gotten me to admit to "latent homosexuality" based on other rumors in the dorm. Another writer, Tom Baker, would have a major incident in the fall of 1963.
My own last visit to an Equality Virginia dinner was in April 2005.  That's another story.