THE GAY AGENDA

Songs Left Unsung

Thirty-five years ago an invisible monster started stalking the streets of New York and the hills of San Francisco. The first mention of it in the media was ‘the Gay Cancer’ story in the New York Times in the summer of 1981. AIDS would go on to kill nearly 40 million people worldwide, with a death toll that still exceeds one million people each year. This disease decimated several generations of gay men in the United States. It also ignited an historic and powerful community response among gay people and our straight allies which changed the course of the disease – and of civil rights in America. This cataclysm is one of the defining global events of the late 20th century, reflected in our politics, literature, music, film and art… but it played out on a much more personal scale. One person, one life, one death at a time. Countless hearts have broken, oceans of tears shed… with amazing courage and dignity shown in the face of disaster.

One of the first blogs I followed was Gay Dinosaur Tales by a fellow WordPresser named Matthew. Our paths have overlapped a bit, both geographically and experientially, though he had about a ten-year headstart on me. It’s been a bit like finding a big brother I didn’t know I had. I love the way he writes about coming to NYC after graduating from Kent State and the decade he spent coming of age as a gay man in Gotham in the 70s and early 80s.

Matthew recently announced that he was taking a break from publishing his blog. I hated the idea, and told him so. But I resigned myself to not seeing any posts from him for awhile. Then, unexpectedly, there was a new post from Gay Dinosaur Tales! It’s very much in keeping with his reminiscences of life in NYC – but this one was something else. It’s a part of his story that he hadn’t yet fully shared, and he needed to now. (click on the link below)

Like all the most involving stories of life and love and loss, its power comes from the truth and the details of the people in his life, his relationships with them, in that time, in that place. Matthew’s story stands on its own by bearing witness to this chapter in his life and remembering those who went before him. But it also reminds us of the dangers of superstition trumping science in our own time, when there is still no vaccine for fear and ignorance.

“I’ve often said, if I could go back to any one job in my life it would be here–this time–this place–that me. That is, until the world collapsed from underneath our feet.”

GayDinosaurTales.com: Celebrate Good Times

 

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Here’s an update on the continuing destruction of traditional marriage in the United States:

BACKGROUND:  In June 2013, the Supreme Court declared the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) to be unconstitutional. That ruling compelled the federal government to recognize and treat equally all marriages considered to be legal in any one of the 50 states. At that point, there were half a dozen or so states that extended marriage equality to same-sex couples.

That ruling was a critically important step in civil rights in America, because while state laws govern who can be married, the vast majority of legal and financial benefits of marriage are bestowed by the federal government. In fact, there are 1,138 federal benefits that accrue to married couples that are not available to swinging singles. Benefits in areas such as Social Security, Taxation, Estates & Inheritance, Adoption, Immigration, Family & Medical Leave, Employee Benefits for Federal Workers, and much more. It’s not just about all that sanctimonious sanctity stuff.

That 2013 Supreme Court ruling did NOT strike down the anti-same-sex-marriage laws in any of the 40+ states still banning marriage equality. But the ruling was a seismic shift in the legal landscape. The writing was on the wall. The bigots had lost. But they kept up the fight… if only to keep those contributions flowing from America’s pews and Barcaloungers.

Dozens of lawsuits were filed by same-sex couples wishing to marry in every state which still banned marriage equality. These cases percolated up through the judicial system. In state courts rising to state supreme courts, and in federal courts rising up through the appellate levels. And you can almost feel sorry for the folks working so diligently to fight marriage equality. Almost. They tried soooo hard. They tried everything. They continued even to the point of looking absolutely ridiculous – and wasting millions of their taxpayers’ dollars. And now, they have not only lost… They have been annihilated. In fact, on more than a few occasions, they have been basically laughed out of court. As well they should be.

Since DOMA was eviscerated, there have been something like 40 court rulings in a row in favor of marriage equality. In every corner of the country. From judges known to be liberal, moderate and conservative. Appointed by Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama. The bigots always put the same question to the courts: We think it’s icky, so why can’t we prevent gay marriage in our state? And they got the same answer every time: Denying gay Americans access to marriage is a direct (obvious, flagrant) violation of their Constitutional rights to due process and equal protection. Period. Now go home. And brush up on your constitutional law. One of my favorite of these rulings came from a federal judge in Pennsylvania, who wrote:

Penna.MarriageRuling.JohnEJonesIII

In some cases, a state stopped its legal campaign to prevent marriage equality once a federal court said it could not. (That was true in Pennsylvania after Judge John E. Jones III issued his ruling, excerpted above.) The governor or attorney general knew that to pursue this to the appellate court or Supreme Court would be a pointless waste of time and money. In the reddest of the red states, though, there was no backing down. Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! When the 4th, 7th and 10th Circuits had all ruled in favor of marriage equality, five states appealed to the Supreme Court: Utah, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Indiana and Virginia.

The Supreme Court put these five cases on the list of those they would consider taking at the end of September. But when the Court released the list of cases it would definitely be taking in the new term, none of these marriage cases were on it. Hmmm. Que pasa, Supremos?

THEN TODAY, the first day of the new term, a bombshell: The Supreme Court announced it had rejected the marriage appeals from all five states. Whaaaaaa? That was initially misconstrued as a refusal to rule on these cases, but the decision not to consider the appeals is a de facto ruling, as it lets stand all of the appellate court rulings in those cases. And all of those rulings were in favor of marriage equality. And – double bonus feature! – Circuit Court of Appeals rulings, once given the force of law, apply to ALL of the states covered by that circuit. So, in addition to the five states who challenged the rulings, an additional six states are swept up in the nuptials news. It may take a few days for their unused kansas.ybmachinery of legal equality to crank up, but you will soon be able to gay marry the gay of your dreams in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Kansas… looks like you’re not in Kansas anymore!

So yes, a good day for equality and for America. We went from 19 to 30 states with marriage equality. More than 60% of Americans are now living in states with marriage equality. Not “gay marriage”. Just… marriage. And the bigoted anti-gay laws in the remaining 20 states (Texas, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, etc) are now hanging by a legal thread. Stay tuned for more rainbow-colored rice being thrown, coast to coast. Click here for a great series of maps showing the status of states with marriage equality, and the states with pending appeals (i.e., the next to go).freedomtomarrylogo

Many of us are disappointed that the Court did not take on these cases and issue a definitive ruling wiping the remaining discriminatory laws off the books, just as it did in 1967 with bans on interracial marriage. That may be yet to come. Some believe the 5th Circuit offers the (sad) possibility of issuing a pro-discrimination ruling. That would be appealed to the Supreme Court – which would have no choice but to take the case, given its action today. You cannot have a country where marriage equality is the law of the land, except in a handful of states. For excellent in-depth coverage of all the legal actions and status in the battle for marriage equality, go to FreedomToMarry.org.

And if you are mourning the loss of your treasured, traditional biblical marriage, I offer you this message from Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian. Like so many of your fellow flock, you may not really understand what kinds of marriage the bible endorses. Let Betty show you the light.

The End (so far)

The Days of Anna Madrigal

I made the following post at the end of January, as Armistead Maupin’s ninth and final Tales of the City book was published. The Days of Anna Madrigal sat on my nightstand for the past six months; I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Michael, Mary Ann, Brian – and certainly not to Anna.

I finally opened it last week. And I can report that this is a very fond farewell to the ‘logical family’ of Tales. Wickedly funny. Poignant. Wistful. Triumphant. If you are reluctant, as I was, to dive in, do: the waters are as warm and inviting as ever. If you are unfamiliar with Armistead Maupin and his series of novels spanning the last 40 years, check your library or bookstore for the first book, Tales of the City. Most anyone who will see this post is likely to fall in love with these tales. And in that happy event, you’ve got eight more books ahead of you!

The End

They say you should never meet your heroes.

Armistead Maupin Armistead Maupin

Well, I don’t know who “they” are, or who they choose as their heroes… but I can tell you that they are wrong. I met one of mine tonight, and he did not disappoint.

I wonder how many people who will see this even recognize the name: Armistead Maupin. In 1976, The San Francisco Chronicle started running a daily serial by Maupin – and so began an extraordinary adventure called Tales of the City.

TalesoftheCity.coverThe City is San Francisco, and the Tales center on three main characters: Mary Ann Singleton is a naive young woman from Ohio who takes a vacation in San Francisco and decides to stay. She finds a room in a boarding house at 28 Barbary Lane (Macondray Lane steps, in our world) on Russian Hill, presided over by a mysterious woman called Mrs Madrigal. Michael…

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Happy birthday, Harvey

As the 20th century was drawing to a close, Time magazine set to work preparing its mother-of-all-lists: The Time 100 Persons of the Century. Quite an undertaking, especially when you consider how many tens of billions of people lived and died during that momentous century. How to whittle the list down to a mere one hundred? Imagine the screaming matches in the editorial meetings as Einstein-TIME-Person-of-the-Centurythat deadline neared! “How can you not include [blank]?!” “Are you out of your mind? [Blank] is worth fifty of [blank]!” “OK, you can have [blank] or [blank] – but not both.” I’m sure it wasn’t as polite as all that.

In the end, The 100 were chosen. This was not a list of the most popular or most beautiful or most loved (although many were one or more of those). The filter used to sift the 20th century was influence. These folks were named for the impact they had on the human race in the past hundred years – “for better or worse”. Given the explosive growth of mass media in that century, many of the names on the list enjoy a renown without borders. Some inhabit the mono-moniker realm: Mandela. Churchill. Gandhi. Hitler. Freud. Ali. Diana. Lindbergh. Pele. Sakharov. Che. MLK. FDR. A few founded companies that became global brands, giving them a more dynamic form of immortality: Ford. Disney. Chanel. Albert Einstein landed on the cover, first among equals – and you don’t have to be Einstein to understand… oh, never mind.

Maybe you’re surprised to learn that little more than half of the list is comprised of Americans. That may seem too high or too low, depending on where you stand. The “made in America” label was sewn into far less than 5% of the planetary population during the timeframe. But this country did have an outsized impact on the condition of the human race in the 1900s, in almost every way. For better and worse.

The list was released not all at once, but in flights across five issues of Time in 1998 and 1999. Each issue offered a different group of The 100 including “Artists & Entertainers”, “Builders & Titans”, “Scientists & Thinkers”. (There’s a link at the end of this post to the entire list.) The final portion of The 100 appeared in the Time issue dated June 14, 1999. “Heroes & Icons” includes some of the most inspiring and courageous people our species has yet produced. Anne Frank. Rosa Parks. Helen Keller. Jackie Robinson. Harvey Milk. Mother Ter––

“Harvey WHO?!”

Seems a safe bet that most earthlings, and (sadly) most Americans would see that name on the list and have no idea who Harvey Milk was. Of course, most Americans can’t name the current Vice President (Joe Biden) or the inventor of the internet (Al Gore)… but that’s Harvey_Milk_Day_logocold comfort. Harvey Milk is a hero of the gay rights movement (and of the larger struggle for civil rights) in America and around the world. He is in the upper echelon of prominence in the lgbt pantheon. In 1977 Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official in California, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (city council). In 1978 he was assassinated in City Hall alongside Mayor George Moscone by a deranged ex-Supervisor with a gun. But Harvey (he is one of those ‘one-namers’ to the gay community) had made his mark long before reaching SF City Hall. Here is an excellent bio from The Milk Foundation, if you’d like to know more about this man and his life so powerfully lived. I can also recommend the excellent biography by Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street (which was made into the Academy Awarded film, Milk with Sean Penn).

Today – May 22nd – is Harvey Milk Day celebrating the man and his life on his birthday. This was established by the California Legislature in 2009 as a ‘day of special significance’ for public schools, with appropriate focus in the curriculum to insure that kids learn about this important man and his place in their own history. As you can imagine, this sets certain folks’ hair on fire… but that’s all the ink I’ll waste on them here. Harvey would be 84 years old today.

harvey-milk-stamp (1)In a special acknowledgment of Harvey Milk’s place in our history, the United States Post Office has issued a commemorative stamp – to be officially dedicated in a ceremony at the White House today. It’s a very proud moment for all of us, gay and straight, who know what a powerful and positive role model this man was for his generation, and all those who followed. I was a 16-year-old kid in the closet in Connecticut in 1978. If I was even aware of the events unfolding in faraway San Francisco, I don’t recall any reaction I may have had.

Looking back now, it’s so easy to forget the context of those times. Harvey Milk was killed just ten years after MLK and RFK were gunned down. That’s less time than has passed for us since 9/11. The Stonewall Riots and the beginning of the gay pride movement were then even more recent. And it is haunting to realize that Harvey lived, and died, in a time just a few years before the onslaught of AIDS… It’s impossible not to indulge the What if? daydreams. What if Harvey had not been murdered? How would he have continued to change the world? It’s impossible not to hear the fury of his voice cracking the marble foundations in Washington – demanding the action and the funding and the leadership that Reagan’s government withheld. Others rose to take up that mantle, courageously and nobly. But there is no doubt that the bullets fired in 1978 condemned more than two good people to death. Keep that in mind the next time you see or hear some imbecile talking about “2nd Amendment solutions”. This nation has paid a hideously high price for our unwillingness to separate dangerously unstable people from their guns.

As President Obama remarked last summer at the 50th anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington and the civil rights struggle: “The arc of the universe may bend toward justice – but it doesn’t bend on its own.” Harvey Milk, as have others before him and since, reached up and grabbed hold of the arc of the universe – and pulled on it with all his might to bend it a little further toward justice. He succeeded. And as we celebrate that success we should stop looking around to see who the next leader will be, and look within. That was Harvey’s real message. And that is why those who would put us all back in the closet may win a battle here and there – but they have already lost the war. Thank you, Harvey.

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And how cool is this? The White House made a birthday cake for Harvey today. He would have loved that!

WhiteHouse.bdaycake4Harvey

The End (so far)

The Time 100 Persons of the Century

Of Jurisprudence + Ash Heaps

Yesterday, Pennsylvania became the 19th state to win marriage equality. Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down DOMA last June, there have been more than a dozen federal court rulings that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. These rulings have been handed down in courts all over the country – from Idaho to Oklahoma to Michigan to Virginia – and by judges all along the political spectrum. The latest is by John E. Jones III… a Republican who was appointed by George W. Bush.

“The issue we resolve today is a divisive one,” he wrote. “Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’”

He noted that in the 60 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for integration in Brown v. Board of Education, “’separate’ marmont.trashhas thankfully faded into history, and only ‘equal’ remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.” Of discriminatory laws, he concluded, “We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.

from Advocate.com

Right-wingers predictably gripe about “activist judges” who are “thwarting the will of the people” when they overturn these discriminatory laws. It’s always the people who wrap themselves in the flag and the Constitution who complain the loudest. That’s sad. Because they obviously don’t understand the first thing about our Constitution. It is the highest law in the land, and it applies to everyone. Sometimes in this country’s history, the will of the people has needed thwarting. Voters can pass referenda (e.g. Prop 8) and politicians can enact whatever laws they like (e.g. DOMA) – and discriminatory laws will always be challenged. Those laws which fail to meet the Constitutional standards of due process and equal treatment… those laws will be struck down. As they should be. As they must be… if we are to be a better people.

The End (so far)

Acme Anti-Gay-Marriage Kit

For more than thirty years, the Republican Party in America has had only one mission: the reduction of taxes. Local taxes. State taxes. Federal taxes. Income taxes. Property taxes. Corporate taxes. Inheritance taxes. Capital gains taxes. Reduce ’em all. Eliminate them, if possible. Nevermind the necessary things that taxes fund, such as schools, highways, research, bank bailouts, etc. Just move whatever money is left into the military. So what if there’s nothing left to defend?

But that produces terrible results for most people. How do you get them to vote for you while you’re cutting them off at the knees? Simple: the Republican Party aligned itself with right-wing passions. It became the Scourge of Communism. The Defender of the Unborn. The Keeper of Traditional (i.e., Christian) Values. The Foe of Gun Control. The Slayer of Regulations. And the Last Line of Defense Against the Homosexual Menace. Wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross – just as Sinclair Lewis warned us.

The GOP has been fairly successful with this strategy. The top marginal federal income tax rate was 70% when Reagan was elected in 1980. When he left office eight years later, it was 28%. Of course, the GOP forgets that St. Ronnie Raygun paid for these massive tax cuts with equally massive federal borrowing. Debt. Same playbook used by W in the first decade of this century. That took $5 trillion out of government revenue, conveniently replaced by (Shhhhhh!) the sale of T-bills (federal debt). “The GOP base” remained loyal – even as their bridges collapsed and their schools crumbled and their drinking water became undrinkable and oil gushed in their waterways and down their streets – because of all those bright shiny objects flashing in front of their eyes: God, guns and gays. 

Funny thing though: here we are, almost 40 years on – and the GOP is losing its touch. Maybe more to the point, its base is succumbing to that age old problem: death. The newest American generations aren’t much interested in singing from the same old Republican hymnal. Communism? What’s that? Young women feel quite capable of making their own reproductive choices. Organized religion (Christian and otherwise) has an ever decreasing hold on Americans under 40. Twenty percent of us now check “none of the above” in answer to the polls about faith. There are more guns in America, but they are held by a shrinking number of gun owners (–only 1/3 of us now). And then there’s the whole gay thing.

There is probably no greater measure of failure than the GOP’s near total defeat vs teh gay. How bad is it? Well, I’m guessing that if you are an anti-gay bigot these days, it probably feels something like this:

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Not that they didn’t have their glory days. If you trace the rainbow’s arc back twenty years, it was a real shitstorm. In 1994, Bill Clinton (yes, that Bill Clinton) signed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) into law – shamefully, in the middle of the night. In 1996, DOMA (the so-called ‘Defense of Marriage Act’) was passed. No state was even contemplating marriage equality at that point. But DOMA made sure that if any gay or lesbian couple managed to get themselves legally hitched in these United States (or anywhere else), then at least the federal government wouldn’t have to recognize that sort of abomination. Morally and ethically, not gay lunchthat’s a problem. But legally, too: there are 1,138 federal benefits and rights bestowed on people who are legally married in this country. DOMA denied all of those rights to gay couples – even if any of the states decided that gay was OK. Which they started to do, early in the next millennium.

In 2004, Massachusetts made history as the first state to sanction same-sex marriage. It was followed in 2008 by Connecticut and California. Uh-oh. California. You know what that means… the slippery slope… 15% of the American population lives there. And it’s the place where all the most popular trends start. Like hula hoops and Valley girls and convertibles and dirty dancing. Better nip that in the bud. So the right wing flapped mightily, with massive funding and organization and fear campaigns about the children! from the Catholic Church (seriously?!) and the Mormons (the irony!), and they mustered 52% to pass Prop 8 – amending the California constitution to restrict civil marriage to one-man-and-one-woman.

That began a five-year-long cascade of court decisions and appeals. At the same time, a number of anti-DOMA cases and decisions and appeals were working their way through the judiciary. Prop 8 and the Windsor challenge to DOMA both reached the U.S. Supreme Court in late 2012, and the Court indicated in taking both cases that it would consider them together.

Meanwhile, over in Congress… a fierce political battle was waged throughout 2010 – and after at least 14,000 service members were forced out of the military for the ‘crime’ of being gay – an act repealing DADT was passed and signed into law by President Obama on 22 December 2010. The law was fully implemented and DADT finally received a dishonorable discharge on 30 September 2011.

Then… on 26 June 2013 – on the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that are commemorated each year by Gay Pride celebrations all over the country –  the United States Supreme Court handed down two momentous decisions. It swatted away the Prop 8 appellants, leaving in place Judge Vaughan Walker’s historic 2010 ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional. Two ediewindsor days later, marriage equality was once again the law of the land in California. And in a 5-4 ruling, the Court handed the indefatigable Edie Windsor her long-fought victory over the so called Defense of Marriage Act. In the process, the Court eviscerated DOMA and required the federal government of the United States to give full recognition (and all of those 1,138 rights) to all legally married couples in this country. (Click on Edie’s photo > links to amazing Time slideshow of Edie & Thea by Paul Moakley.)

Civil marriage is administered by each state. Whether you do a religious ceremony or not, you need to secure a marriage license from the state. Just as you need a driver’s license to drive, or a hunting license to hunt. The words are so familiar, whether uttered by a priest or a minister, rabbi, imam or a justice of the peace: “By the power vested in me by the State of (insert state name here), I now pronounce you spouse and spouse.” And this is why the Windsor decision did not instantly make same-sex marriage legal nationwide. It told the federal government to recognize all marriages legally performed in any state. And so, the battles shifted back to the states.

On 26 June 2013 there were 9 American states and the District of Columbia with marriage equality. Less than one year later, there are now 18 states (shaded dark on map, below) plus DC with marriage equality. Just today, we welcomed Oregon to the wedding party. And those numbers may be changing even more dramatically in the very near future. Here’s why:

us.marriage.051914

The 18 dark shaded states plus DC have marriage equality as of today (19 May 2014). The medium shading shows 7 states where a court has found the ban to be unconstitutional, and those cases are now in the appeals process. These are seven of the reddest (most conservative) states in the country: Idaho, Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Virginia and Arkansas (which isn’t correctly shaded on this map). Some of these cases (UT, OK and VA) have already been heard by the various Courts of Appeal, and a ruling could come down at any time. Oddly, the three states in yellow have bans in place that have not yet been challenged. Montana, North & South Dakota are home collectively to 2.5 million people; about eight-tenths of one percent of the American population. Just sayin’…
***UPDATE: Challenges were filed in MT and SD on 5/22, and ND on 6/6. No state bans remain unchallenged.***

So, 18 + 7 + 3 = 28. That leaves 22 states with the lightest shading on the map (see updates*, below). And in every one of those states, lawsuits have been filed to challenge the bans on same-sex marriage and these are working their way through the judicial system. It is only a matter of time before each one of those cases produces a ruling… the likely appeal… and a final decision. But what is no longer in doubt is the final outcome: marriage equality will be the law of the land in all fifty states, and it will happen sooner rather than later. I predict before 2017 – which will be the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision which swept away all the remaining state laws criminalizing interracial marriage.

Updates – Bans now struck down in: (5/20) Pennsylvania; (6/6) Wisconsin (stayed); (6/25) Indiana (stayed); (7/1) Kentucky (stayed); (7/9) Colorado

***MAJOR MILESTONE: On 6/25, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver issued its ruling in Utah’s appeal of the federal court finding its ban unconstitutional. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling. This is the most significant judicial action since last year’s Supreme Court invalidation of DOMA and Prop 8, as it is the first time one of the Appeals Courts have ruled on a marriage equality case. The Tenth Circuit issued a stay pending Utah’s expected appeal to the Supreme Court. However, its ruling applies to all of the states in its jurisdiction: UT (stayed on appeal), NM (which already had marriage equality), WY, KS, CO and OK. The Tenth Circuit has already heard arguments in the appeal by OK (virtually identical to the UT case) and may issue its ruling at any time. In CO, a state judge struck down the ban on 7/9; county clerks in Boulder and Denver are issuing marriage licenses and a judge today refused to stop them. The confusion stems from the fact that the Tenth Circuit ruling found Utah’s anti-gay discrimination in marriage to be unconstitutional, which does apply to all six states in its jurisdiction. Does the stay apply only to UT or to the other five states too? The Tenth hasn’t said, and only county clerks in Colorado have tested it (successfully) by issuing marriage licenses. Don’t hold your breath for that to happen in WY, KS or OK. What is also interesting is that UT has elected to skip requesting an en banc review by the Tenth Circuit, and says it will soon ask the Supreme Court to hear its appeal. The next shoes to drop are the other Appeals Court rulings that are in various stages of the process. Idaho has appealed to the Ninth Circuit, and that’s a no-brainer. The Fourth Circuit (MD, VA, WV, SC) heard arguments in VA’s case in May and can rule any time now. The Sixth Circuit will hear arguments on 8/6 in six marriage cases from the four states in its jurisdiction (MI, OH, KY, TN) and can issue its ruling any time afterwards. The Fifth Circuit (TX, LA, MS) now has a case on appeal from TX. The Seventh Circuit (WI, IL, IN) has an appeal from IN, and maybe WI. Stay tuned! For up-to-the-minute info on all the cases in all the states and courts, go to FreedomToMarry.org.

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But in the meantime, we can count on the Republicans and their “Grand Old Party” with their teabaggers and teavangelicals to hang on to their institutional bigotry until the bitter end. And that’s probably a good thing for the country, really. Because the more out-of-step the GOP is with the majority of Americans, the more marginalized it will become… the less power it will wield… and this country may one day soon be able to shake off the last effects of this infection that has raged in our body politic for decades. That would be a very good thing, for this nation and our world. (Witness the Republican primary contests being waged right now across the country… especially that clusterfuck in Idaho. Oh myyyyyhere’s a link. And here.) You know, before Antarctica melts and ExxonMobilShellGazpromWalmart acquires nuclear weapons.

And you wonder why I call this blog: The End (so far)

Feeling moreish? Here are some related posts from the archives:

This Is Why We Fight The Hate

Act Up! Fight Back! 

Loving v. Virginia – Again

Continuum

Thank You, Edie Windsor

Homomentum

Semper Fi – Finally

It Was A Tres Gay Day In The USA

“I’m Going to Midland!”

“I’m going to Midland,” which I believe is Texan for “I’m gonna go get drunk in my Escalade and I hate you I hate you I hate you.”

The Broadcast is a tv chatfest, a local Dallas version of The View. Tom Boggioni (TBogg) recaps a discussion these ladies had about the NFL-draft-ESPN-Michael-Sam-and-boyfriend-KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS. If Texas has to exist at all, at least we have spirit guides like Tom to chop it into bite-size, tasty morsels of chocolate-covered WTF.

This post will make you laugh.

Watching the 9-minute video may liquefy your brain and cause it to run out your ears. Or not. But fair warning: once you hit play, no power on earth can tear your eyes away from this clusterfuck.

Here is the video clip and TBogg’s take on it. Enjoy.

CLICK >>> texas-mom-talker-doesnt-want-your-gay-shoved-in-her-face-takes-her-blonde-and-goes-home

 

P.S. The petrified dino turd (3rd from the left) is conclusive proof that the Earth is older than 6,000 years. Oh, the irony…

The End (so far)

How To Explain THAT To The Kids?!

You may have heard that college football star Michael Sam became the first openly gay player in the NFL when he was drafted by the St Louis Rams over the weekend. You may have seen the live coverage on ESPN, as Mike got the call from his agent with the great news. It was an emotional moment for him and his boyfriend, surrounded by family and friends. And as they hugged and kissed each other, you could hear America’s reaction. Well, there were two reactions: either AWWWWWWWWW!!! or EWWWWWWWWW!!!

For most of us, it was a touching moment of Awwwwww! But, the sight of two men hugging and kissing, right there, in the middle of the NFL draft, on the television… well, some folks found that icky. So alarming is the sight of man-on-man affection – they might not even have noticed the interracial aspect! Who knows? The Ewwwwww! may have been doing double-duty disapproval in some quarters.

And now how – dadgummit! – just how are you s’posed to explain this to yer kids?! Glad you asked. The folks at HECKBENDER have got you covered.

 

And don’t forget:

Was he indicted by a grand jury and charged with multiple felony counts of torturing and killing dogs? Was he convicted of running a dog-fighting ring from his property in Virginia? Did he kill dogs by shooting them, electrocuting them, hanging them, beating them and drowning them? Did he spend two years in prison for these monstrous acts of cruelty?

No… that’s Michael Vick, who was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles when he was released from prison, and was just signed for one year by the New York Jets. Let’s not forget that scumbag Vick: CLICK HERE and HERE and HERE.

Most players in the NFL aren’t violent creeps or convicted psychopaths. Some are. If you are untroubled by them, but a little kiss has set your moral compass spinning… Dude – seriously?

The End (so far)

P.S. Thanks to Nathan Simpson at Queerlandia for hitting me in the numbers with this pass!

Tweet of the Day/Week/Month/Year

 

Especially convicted+jailed dog-killer Michael Vick

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2014/03/michael_vick_new_york_jets.php

The End (so far)

 

Step Aside, Sachertorte! Make Way, Wienerschnitzel!

 

sachertorte   wienerschnitzel--oesterreich-werbung--d

 

VIENNA – There’s a new kid in town. Conchita Wurst – the 25-year old drag queen who has taken Europe by storm as Austria’s “bearded lady” – has won the 2014 Eurovision Song Contest. Oh, and she designed her own skintight golden gown. Some people are just too talented. Congrats also to Tom Neuwirth, Fraulein Wurst’s alter-ego.

Here’s the winning song, “Rise Like A Phoenix” from the Eurovision finals in Copenhagen on Saturday.

 

The last Austrian songstress to cause this sort of sensation was Maria von Trapp! We’ve come a long way from Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens… 

The End (so far)

P.S. Meanwhile, back in the U S of A…

It Was A Très Gay Day In The USA

The National Football League is the biggest, baddest sports league in the galaxy America. Everything about the NFL is over-the-top. Teams of massive, muscle-bound multi-millionaires clash on billion-dollar battlefields, annihilating each other until only two armies are left standing. And then, Armageddon. The ultimate battle for WORLD* SUPREMACY. The Super Bowl.

* If you live in any of the other 195 countries (out of 196) where American football is not played, please forgive the slight exaggeration. You know how we are.

Baseball may be our national pastime, but football is the last redoubt of hyper-masculinity in USA! USA! If you’re not familiar with American sport (as the rest of the world – plus Mitt Romney – clips it), the ultimate primer on baseball vs football was given to us by the great George Carlin:

So, it was big news today when an NFL team drafted its first openly gay player. Michael Sam was a star player for the University of Missouri Tigers. He came out to his teammates at the start of his senior year season in 2013. They took the news in stride, the Mizzou Tigers went on to win the 2014 Cotton Bowl and Michael Sam was named a Defensive Player of the Year.

Michael Sam

Then in February, he came out to the rest of the world, taking a huge risk with his anticipated career in the NFL – which has never had, and certainly never drafted, an openly gay player. A handful of cowards anonymously expressed some negative comments, but the response from the NFL, its teams, players and fans was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. When the “god hates fags” pestilence descended on Missouri’s celebration of its Cotton Bowl win, a thousand students lined the roadway with signs of support and t-shirts that read “STAND WITH SAM” to shield Michael from the haters. The hashtag #standwithsam trended for @mikesamfootball.

Stand_With_Sam_WBC_counterprotestors

The St Louis Rams drafted Mike Sam today, and there’s a certain symmetry to that. It means he’ll have a built-in fan base in Missouri cheering him on. Congrats to Mike Sam, the Rams and the NFL. Everyone wins.

That news alone would make May 10th a banner day for the gay. But wait – there’s more. The state just south of Missouri (by pure coincidence) is Arkansas. In an America divided into conservative “red” and progressive “blue” states, Arkansas runs blood red in the former (-ish) Confederacy of the American South. It is the buckle of the “Bible belt”. Got the picture?

Well, imagine the surprise yesterday when an Arkansas judge ruled that his state’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the Constitution. BOOM! And he didn’t stay his ruling (in spite of the likely appeal), which meant that county clerks began issuing marriage licenses today to gay couples. First in line: Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo received their marriage license and wasted no time at all. They married in an impromptu ceremony on the sidewalk outside the courthouse in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

arkansas.first couple marriage license

 

Congratulations to Kristen & Jennifer! And to Michael Sam – and his boyfriend (who probably also made history today as the first gay liplock on ESPN? Trey Wingo – can you confirm this stat?)

NFL drafts Sam

So, 10 May 2014. Big day all around. You know, this country often takes two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes we take one step forward and two steps back. But in the end, what we remember… what history records… what defines us… are the steps forward.

The End (so far)

P.S. Meanwhile, over in Europe…

A Thorn Among The Roses

snoopyI’ve been doing this blog for about six months now. It’s a gratifying experience. Not just the writing. The unexpected pleasure has been the discovery of other bloggers, their endless creativity and forms of expression. Engaging with the people on the other end of those blogs can lead to rewarding and refreshing new relationships. It’s a unique form of friendship, really. Blogging demands honesty, and honesty often requires courage. Bloggers put themselves out there, certainly in front of the folks who follow them – but potentially in front of everyone on Earth with an internet connection. It can take some getting used to, putting yourself on a stage that big. But it gets easier as people begin to like your post on this or that… as they begin to follow your blog… and as everyone comments on each other’s blog posts. There’s a real sense of community – because unlike all the so-called “reality” fare in the media, blogs and their bloggers are real.

One of the real blokes I’ve bumped into in the blogosphere is Margaret Rose Stringer. M-R (don’t call her Margaret) hails from Sydney, and I tend to think of her as the Thunder Down Under. She is smart, snarky, even a bit bawdy. M-R never leaves you guessing, and never fails to make me smile. She seems to have lived several lifetimes – so far. I’ll know more about that once I’ve read her recently published memoir. And Then Like My Dreams is a remembrance of her decades of adventures with the love of her life, Chic Stringer. Their love, their travels, their life together, their work in the Australian film and tv industry… his death, and how she survives his loss. And thrives, as he would want her to. Here’s the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/And-Then-Like-My-Dreams/dp/1922089028

PersonalBlogsofWebFriendsM-R has been in a particularly sharing mood lately, featuring some of her favorite bloggers in daily posts under the banner M-R’s Challenge: Personal Blogs of Web Friends That I Read. Early this morning, I noticed an unusual level of activity on my blog for that hour, and I soon tracked down the culprit. M-R had made me #12 in her Challenge! Now, there may be nicer ways to wake up – but none that involve blog stats and referring links. 🙂

So, it’s an honor from a fellow blogger whom I like and admire. I’ve already enjoyed reading and following some of the other nominees in M-R’s Challenge. And I know that being spotlighted in this way will cause more wonderful collisions in the blogosphere. At the risk of self-promotion, here’s the link to M-R’s appreciation of The End (so far).

http://margaretrosestringer.com/2014/05/06/m-rs-challenge-12/

I enjoyed reading the comments under her post. Some of the names are already familiar to me as members of the M-R community I’m happy to be a part of. Some new bloggers to check out. And then there was this… the turd in the punchbowl:

“Methinks he has already labeled me and my beliefs with a variety of names I don’t care to read, so I think I’ll have to pass. I can get beaten up enough in other places for being a conservative Christian. Sigh. – Janet”

Hmmm. Srsly? I started tapping out my reply: Janet dear, come down off that cross – your friends need the wood for a book burning! But that would only cause a tempest in the middle of M-R’s teapot. And I wouldn’t want to be so rude in my generous host’s blog-home. Isn’t that considered… un-Christian? So I’ve teleported Janet and her grievance here instead.

Ah, a thorn among the roses… Sorry you feel that way, Janet. Please don’t bear false witness to my blog, though. I don’t care what mythology you follow, if any. You can worship Jesus or string cheese or sunflowers or sea monkeys. That’s none of my business and it shouldn’t affect me. But so many ‘believers’ – especially, it must be said, conservative Christians – seem to want it to affect me, want to make it my business. I don’t “beat people up” because they are Christians or any other ‘faith’ flavor. I do take considerable pleasure in skewering pseudo-pious bigots and all those who would make ignorance a communicable disease, or a qualification for elected office. Of that I am proudly guilty.

Do you believe the universe was created in six days? six thousand years ago? Do you believe Noah gathered tens of millions of species on his wooden boat? Were the dinosaurs on it? Or do you believe that Satan scattered fake fossils around the Earth’s surface to deceive us? Do you believe a zygote is a full-fledged human being? Do you believe marriage is reserved for a man and a woman? Do you believe the civil laws of the United States should codify your supernatural beliefs?

If you understand only two things about me, please understand this: (1) I do not care that you believe such things or anything else; and (2) As an American, I defend your right to believe ANYTHING without any interference from the government. (I do think religious organizations should pay taxes, because they reap the benefits of a functioning society, along with the rest of us. But there is room for disagreement on that. Another time, perhaps.)

Not possessing any psychic ability (beyond the usual Pisces talents), how could I possibly know what things you believe? I could live my whole life in blissful ignorance of your ignorance… except that you tell me. You tell me. You tell everyone. You want everyone to know. You never miss an opportunity. In the street. On billboards. Radio. Television. You knock on doors. In newspapers, magazines. On your blog. In your comments on other people’s blogs. You don’t like the gay, so no one can be gay. You don’t like contraception, so no one can use contraception. You don’t like abortion, so no one can have an abortion. You don’t nevertrust.onebooklike evolution, so everyone must learn your ‘creationism’ fairy tale. That’s right Janet. I don’t care what you believe – but when you try to substitute your bible story for a public school science textbook, then we’ve got a problem. And it’s of your own making. When you try to substitute your twisted, angry, bitter Dark Ages ‘morality’ for our more enlightened 21st century American social mores, then we’ve got a problem. And it’s entirely of your own making.

In my book, that makes you not a Christian, but a “Xian”. Like an Islamist. You are someone who warps your otherwise innocuous personal religious beliefs (god and love and peace, etc) and turns it into a bludgeon, or a sword. Xians are like a virus in American society. The infection began when Reagan’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, saw an opportunity to hitch evangelical passion to the Republican party in the 80s. That’s when – and why – the GOP became anti-abortion, anti-gay, pro-gun and pro-god (Xian god). It built on Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” which harnessed the ‘passion’ of white Southern racism. Lots of passionate hatred. Not very consistent with your holy books.

Yesterday, the US Supreme Court made its latest controversial 5-4 ruling (after ‘corporations = people’ and ‘money = speech’): allowing sectarian prayer in public meetings. Translation: if it so chooses, the Podunk town meeting or the New York City Council can legally open with a prayer – to Jesus Christ. (Or to Yahweh or Allah or any of the other 3,000 deities currently worshipped by earthlings… funny thing though, it’s always Jesus.) Now, it doesn’t mean that every public meeting must invoke Jesus before setting tax policy or parking restrictions. Many will continue with the standard (and utterly inoffensive) moment of silence. But the Supreme Court has now permitted this “Praise you Jesus” breach in the wall that separates ‘church and state’.

Xians may be dancing (is dancing allowed?) with joy over this ruling. They should be absolutely terrified. Because it’s not difficult to find examples of nations whose societies are organized with laws based on God Almighty. But not your god. Allah has trumped Jesus in these places. And Christians are just one step removed from having their picture on bags of Purina Lion Chow in places like Saudi Arabia. Iran. Most of the Gulf States. All the -stans. Last week it was reported that the Sultan of Brunei is so gung ho on sharia law that he’s bringing back stoning as a capital punishment for gays and adulterous women.

You think that can’t happen here? Laws based on the Christian bible might not be very fair or kind to non-Christians… but you can live with that? That ignorance will only protect you for so long. Maybe state-sanctioned religion in the United States will never result in Koran-based sharia law. But once you’ve allowed your government to pray to one deity, or to make laws based on one religion, then you’ve also given that government the power to ban other deities, or other religions – or all religion. The wall that we’ve always called ‘the separation of church and state’ was not built to keep Christians fenced in. It was built to keep the government out. Out of your religious faith. Tear down that wall, and you invite government in. History is awash in the blood of those – Christians included – who have had to defend their god and themselves against a hostile government.

Janet, you may feel ‘beaten up’ because I call out Xians on their dangerous ignorance, false piety and bigotry – but I’m not feeding you to the lions. Perhaps a little perspective would serve you better than that silly persecution complex.

religion is like a penis

The End (so far)