It’s been another week of ups and downs, but more-so because it included the anniversary that no one can help but remember. I hadn’t decided whether to post some remembrance of the day, until I thought about the gay & lesbian Americans who lost their lives that day, some in the course of acting heroically to help others in the midst of the terror. Needless to say, I wanted to do my part to remember them and honor who they were.
Speaking of acting heroically, we lost someone this week whom I think fits the category. Tyrone Garner was one half of the couple behind in the Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court ruling, which struck down state “sodomy laws.” Anyone who helped bring the court to a point of deciding that something which “demeans the lives of homosexual persons” should not stand definitely deserves to be remembered. As for the rest of the week, well, there was a lot more to remember
- For starters, Queerty notes that former Atlanta Attorney General Mike Bowers — of Bowers vs. Hardwick fame — was just chosen by the Atlanta Bar Association to receive its most prestigious honor. Gay legal eagles were less than amused, but the Atlanta Bar association answered that the award doesn’t mean “that every member of the Atlanta Bar Association agrees with every action or position of the Honoree.”
- Terejanderson noted that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have decided not to marry until gay couples can legally marry too. I’m not sure what to believe given that at least one supermarket tabloid has them tying the not already. But if it’s true, I join the guys at Queerty in welcoming the support.
- At the same time, I’d give Brangelina the same suggestion I’d give to any other gay-supportive straight couple considering marriage: whether you decide to tie the knot or now, consider making (and/or asking your guests to make) a donation to Freedom to Marry, or to other national or state organizations working for marriage equality. And if your an LGBT person feeling conflicted over how to RSVP to the latest wedding invitation in your mailbox, instead of boycotting the wedding, attend and give the couple a note saying that you’ve made a similar donation in their names, in lieu of a gift.
- Steve over at Independent Gay Forum makes an interesting point, that defining marriage as “that form of family which excludes homosexuals” puts the institution on the same path to obsolecense that the “old boys clubs” ended up on by refusing to admit women by putting equality-minded heterosexual couples off the idea. He may have a point. Ironically, they may be inadvertently destroying marriage in order to save it.
- Speaking marriage, supporters of marriage equality in Virginia got a lift from yet another poll showing an increase in opposition to the amendment, from 38% to 40%. Not enough to defeat it, but an indication that even in a state that’s arguably the least gay friendly in the union there a shift in public opinion.
- Along those same lines, the blogger at Virginia Centrist has some questions about conservative calculus on the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment. Questions like “Even if this amendment causes occasional inconvenience for straight couples and occasional discrimination against gays, isn’t that concern outweighed by the possibility that society itself will be destroyed?”
- One hundred lawyers, including two former state attorneys general, have signed a statement opposing Virginia’s proposed anti-gay marriage amendment. The statement says the law could be used to exclude unmarried couples from the state’s domestic partnership laws, as well as serve to terminate all rights of unmarried couples who have entered into contracts. Nothing I haven’t said before, but I don’t have a law degree.
- Even Virginia governor Tom Kaine — who was rather “sometimey” on gay issues during his election campaign — has announced that he will campaign against the amendment, saying he believes it will put couples at risk of losing several benefits. I’ve been critical of Kaine before, but I gotta give him credit o this one.
- In Colorado, the Daily Press got taken to task for an article that purported to list all of the amendments included in the state portion of the ballot for this year’s election actually listed the amendment that would constitutionally prohibit recognition of same-sex marriage, but omitted the amendment allowing same-sex domestic partnerships.
- Meanwhile, Focus on the Family — which is, oddly enough, supporting a Colorado amendment to establish reciprocal beneficiaries/domestic partnerships in its own back yard — is entering the fray to support the anti-gay marriage amendment in Wisconsin. Not surprising since the state attorney general and at least one conservative radio host have expressed doubts about the amendment, and the margins are narrowing.
- Also, the lawsuit brought by two lesbian couples over Colorado Springs’ 2003 decision to revoke domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples has been dropped since one backed-out of the lawsuit and one partner in the remaining couple passed away.
- Also in Colorado, there’s increasing religious support for Referendum 1, which religious supporters say would give same-sex couples “the most basic legal rights,” which it also has the big plus of not actually being marriage.
- Good As You has good news from a state one doesn’t expect much good news from on gay issues. The University of Kentucky is studying the possibility of allowing unmarried domestic partners of school employees to participate in the school’s health plan.
- In other religious news, the church trial of a Presbyterian minister accused of breaking church law by performing as marriage between two women got underway in Pittsburgh this week.
- Meanwhile in New Zealand, an approaching vote on whether to exclude gays from being eligible to become ministers has caused what being called an anti-gay hate mail campaign that recently sent letters and stickers calling gays “a cancer in the church” to every congregation in the country. Some ministers find the campaign distasteful, but will vote to exclude gays from the ministry anyway.
- Presbyterians in Sacramento send a message of protest to the national denomination by voting not to accept gay clergy.
- The Archbishop of South Africa, by contrast, has lent his backing to same-sex marriage legislation, but suggested using the word “union” instead.
- Gay & Lesbian Humanists say Scottish Catholics are threatening to out gay priests and Bishops in the country, as part of a little campaign they call “name and shame,” complete with the usual claim about a connection between pedophilia and homosexuality.
- Meanwhile the Scottish Parliament has approved a bill that would allow same-sex couples to adopt. What’s more is passed by a vote of 103 to 8. The bill is intended to remedy a significant reduction in the number of families available to adopt, by also making the adoption process easier and providing better protection. And it passed 103 to 8? I can get that margin of victory out of my head. Maybe it’s because I’m jealous?
- Meanwhile in the U.S. gay couples often struggle to adopt, often facing obstacles to joint adoption that are only resolved by moving to another state, provided they have the resources to uproot their lives even temporarily. The hubby and I are fortunate to live in a state that doesn’t prohibit us from adopting jointly. Not everyone else is.
- Another anti-gay group is reaching over state boundaries to oppose marriage equality, this time all the way from Arizona to New York. The Alliance Defense Fund filed suit to block New York’s employee retirement system from recognizing same-sex marriage from Massachusetts and Canada, entered into by current and retired gay & lesbian state employees. If that isn’t over-reaching, what is? I guess they want to may sure gay New Yorkers can cross the borders and slip illegal equality by into the U.S. upon return.
- Speaking of crossing borders, the new San Francisco-based organization Out4Immigration is promoting a bill that would allow gay Americans to sponsor their foreign partners for immigration. Good for them, since right now gay Americans with a foreign partner may find themselves choosing between their partners and their country; or, more accurately, between a partner who loves them and a country that’s lukewarm at best. And if the foreign partner lives in a country that does recognize same-sex relationships equally, it’s more incentive to leave than to stay.
- That’s the case for Washington Blade editor Chris Crain, who’s leaving the U.S. to join his partner in Brazil, because the U.S. doesn’t recognize same-sex partners for immigration purposes, while Brazil is one of 17 countries that does issue visas to same-sex partners of its citizens. In his final editorial, Crain says “Gay Americans, meanwhile, are powerless to be united with their foreign-born partners, unless they are willing to live in exile abroad — and thousands of them do. …I will always be an American, but I will share that identity with a newfound home, at least until our government lives up to the promise of “freedom and tolerance” about which the president speaks with such conviction.” Is this another kind of “gay exodus”? If we have to chose between love or country, is it any surprise which is most likely to win?
- Gay groups are uncertain of South Africa’s proposed civil unions bill, as it falls short of granting full marriage to same-sex couples, and instead establishes a separate legal structure. Ironically, if even that bill passes, South Africa will be light years ahead of the U.S.
- Also, the South African National Bank has started reaching out to help transgendered South Africans with issues related to state ID cards.
- On a vaguely related note, check out this post about the recent gender-bending trend on YouTube, that includes transforming Kylie Minogue into George Michael and Paris Hilton into Ricky Martin.
- Uruguay is lining up to be another destination of choice for gay Americans if the proposed civil unions law passes, as expected. It isn’t marriage, but it’s closer to equality than most same-sex couples can get in the U.S., and it’s likely to happen a lot sooner there than it is here. Like, before the end of this year, as opposed to a decade or two from now.
- In Britain, another country that offers same-sex couples more rights and protections than we get or are likely to get anytime soon in the U.S., two heterosexual sisters are suing for the same inheritance tax exemption rights as married couples and same-sex couples in civil partnerships.
- Under pressure from religious conservatives, Canada’s Parliament may face a vote to re-open the debate on Canada’s same-sex marriage law, but supporters of marriage equality feel confident that members will vote against reopening the debate.
- Speaking of light years ahead of the U.S., Crooked Timber has an interesting look at the Netherlands, one of the most gay-friendly countries, but where intolerance has increased of late. The numbers indicate that religion plays a large role in having a negative attitude towards gays, and the blogger wraps up by saying “The current study shows that in the Netherlands gays are still not entirely treated with the same respect as straight people, even though for many abroad this country surely looks like a paradise for gays.”
- Looks like paradise? Well, ask yourself this. If American television were to show a video of a kid singing a happy song about his two gay dads, to an audience of children who were singing along with him on the chorus, what do you think the response would be? Remember Janet’s breast? Remember PBS and Postcards from Buster? Remember that some people would prefer a world in which our families are unseen and unheard, or simply don’t exist. Think bigger.
- And before you pipe up that at least our leadership isn’t as bad as that of, say Iran, who’s president — MPetrellis points out — approved of executing gays, during a speech at Harvard, consider that such executions are already happening on our watch in Iraq, and have been for some time. Consider also that our government sided with Iran’s government in opposing UN access for gay human rights activists.
- Good As You has the dirt on what appears to be the religious conservative answer to Heather Has Two Mommies. It’s called (wait for it) Does God Love Michael’s Two Daddies? My guess is that the answer may not be a firm “no” but closer to “Kinda. Sorta. But….”
- Damn Straight’s post on Karl Rove as queerspawn makes an interesting point about the possibility that Karl may find it tempting to vilify homosexuality itself for his parents’ divorce. (His folks divorced because his father was gay, and I guess couldn’t remain in the closet anymore. My approach would be to vilify a society that left his father so few options but to enter a marriage destined for a painful end. but to each his own.)
- Speaking of electoral politics, Maryland’s & lesbian candidates fared well in this week’s primary, for the most part, though two black gay candidates and our one trangendered candidates fell short of winning their primaries.
- Minnesota’s openly gay Republican state senator, who came out after siding with Democrats, won his primary after facing a challenger who made sexual orientation an issue in the race.
- Speaking of gay Republicans, KipEsquire has posted an interesting guest post from a gay Republican, including his own rebuttal. My favorite line: “It’s one thing to grab your ball and stomp off the playground in a huff. But when the playground has a stockade fence around it, and is populated by bullies, and is contaminated with toxic waste, isn’t it time to think about finding a new playground — or just playing in your own backyard instead?”
- On the other hand, Steven Miller says the door should remain open for groups like Log Cabin Republicans and the Club for Growth to work together, “although (and alas) many candidates who most strongly support letting people keep more of their own money are often conservative on social issues”.
- In a refreshing reversal of the recent trend of running way from gay voters, Massachusetts Democrats are courting the gay vote in the governor’s race this year, with the message that their marriage rights may be under threat depending on how the election goes.
- Apparently the executive director of New Jersey’s State Democratic Committee completely flipped her wig over the presence of a Cher impersonator at the an LGBTI Democratic Caucus event in Atlantic City, repeatedly referring to said Cher impersonator as “THAT”.
- I want to take a minute to plug a new blog that’s become a regular read for me, and has also given me a book to look forward to. It’s called Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, and it’s written by a blogger who has plans to publish a book by the same name, and defines the mission of his blog as follows. “What I am saying through my book and my blog is that distortions and lies in the name of God are still distortions and lies. And anyone who knowingly uses them and can still refer to themselves as a person of faith needs to examine themselves.”
- Check out the above blogger’s example of what he means by a headless monster. I also recommend his post on the permeation of lies by the “anti-gay industry” that makes its bread and butter on promoting hatred of gay people, and his timeline takedown of Paul Cameron. Sometimes I suspect he may be right. Perhaps we need more Ghengises than Gandhis right about now.
OK. In the interest of getting this posted before sundown, I’m going to wrap it up there even though I keep thinking of stuff I could include. If there’s something you want to include, share it in the comments or drop me a line if it’s something for next week’s round-up. Also drop me a line if you want to be on the list to get an email alert when the round-up is posted.
See ya next week! Actually, see ya sooner, because I’ve got a couple of diary entries in me that will see light of day between now and next Friday.