gay rights

¿Normalization?

Naota (at right), tugs on the electrical cable rectally feeding a sex toy designed to look like his father (bottom), while MiuMiu the cat catches some rays. (FLCL episode 4, 'Full Swing')

This is a sentence that ought to thrill hearts: “America may be closer to a post-gay state of politics than most realize”. Alex Roarty’s report for Roll Call either begs certain questions or else desecrates them; matters of perspective abide.

The St. Jerome Fancy Farm Picnic is an annual showcase for Kentucky’s top politicians to give (they hope) a funny, sharp-elbowed speech at the other party’s expense. While they speak, hundreds of loud-mouthed partisans are encouraged to yell and scream as loudly as they can―as if the American political id was caged in a small pavilion two hours from a major airport.

U.S. Senate candidate Jim Gray (D) speaks the annual Fancy Farm Picnic in Fancy Farm, Kentucky, on Saturday, 6 August 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)“I want to introduce myself to Sen. McConnell,” he said, looking over to the Senate majority leader seated a few feet away, who minutes earlier had given his own speech. The Republicans, whose voices drowned out the sound of nearby thunder, chanted “Go away Gray!”

The candidate continued: “He earlier called me a ‘nobody.’ Well, let me introduce myself, senator. I am Jim Gray, and I am the guy who is going to beat Rand Paul.”

What went unnoticed this recent Saturday afternoon was that Gray was probably first openly gay person to speak at Fancy Farm. Records aren’t easy to come by for something that began in 1880, but veterans of the event say they can’t recall an openly gay speaker.

This is how Gray’s campaign has gone: He’s making history, and nobody seems to notice. Or, for that matter, care.

(more…)

Advertisements

A Brief Distraction

Associated Press: "US envoy takes 17 UN ambassadors to play with gay characters" (2 March 2016)Associated Press:  "NASA spaceman back from record year flight; gives thumbs up" (2 March 2016)This is fun. I mean, sure, maybe Scott Kelly did give an actual thumbs-up at some point, but still.

Headlines, indeed, can be their own manner of entertainment. But even more fun than mismatches like Krill Kudryavtsev’s photo with Marcia Dunn’s headline for Associated Press is a double entendre, such as we might perceive her colleague Edith M. Lederer’s human rights report: “US envoy takes 17 UN ambassadors to play with gay characters”.

____________________

Image note: Left ― AP headline, “NASA spaceman back from record year flight; gives thumbs up”, with photo by Krill Kudryavtsev showing American astronaut Scott Kelly showing a victory sign, 2 March 2016. Right ― AP headline: “US envoy takes 17 UN ambassadors to play with gay characters”, 2 March 2016.

Dunn, Marcia. “NASA spaceman back from record year flight; gives thumbs up”. Associated Press. 2 March 2016.

Lederer, Edith M. “US envoy takes 17 UN ambassadors to play with gay characters”. Associated Press. 2 March 2016.

A Marriage Update (Massachusetts)

Serrano, Piss Christ (detail)“Did you just feel an icy chill, homophobes who think hiding behind your religion will protect your right to be discriminatory and hateful? It’s called the wind of change, and it’s going to get a lot stronger. A Massachusetts judge this week has ruled that a Milton all-girl Catholic prep school broke the law when it withdrew a job offer to a gay man. I suspect you’ll be seeing a lot more of that from here on in, America. You might want to get used to it.”

Mary Elizabeth Williams

So … right. I don’t know, just keep an eye on this one. I mean, you know, it’s good news and all, but I’m not sanguine. It’s not quite the pricking of my thumbs, but something tells me this isn’t over.

____________________

Image note: Detail of Piss Christ, by Andres Serrano, 1987.

Williams, Mary Elizabeth. “Sorry, Catholic schools: Discriminating against gay people in the name of ‘religious freedom’ just got harder”. Salon. 18 December 2015.

Beehive Buzz

VIII. Adjustment.

Just an update to a tale out of Utah:

A Utah judge who had ordered a baby girl taken away from her lesbian foster mothers and placed in a heterosexual home removed himself from the case Monday as criticism turned into calls for his impeachment.April Hoagland, left, and Beckie Peirce smile during a press conference outside of the Juvenile Court in Price, Utah Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. The married same-sex couple said Friday they are relieved after finding out they will be able to keep a baby girl they have been raising as foster parents. They spoke after a judge reversed his ruling to take the 9-month-old child and place her with a heterosexual couple for her well-being. (Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

Though Judge Scott Johansen had reversed his decision and allowed the 9-month-old baby to stay with the married women recommended by state welfare authorities, there were concerns he could still have the baby removed from their home in Price later on.

April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce asked for the judge to be disqualified, saying that the decision revealed a potential bias that broke the rules of judicial conduct, their lawyer Jim Hunnicutt said.

While Johansen disputed their legal standing to call for his removal, he nevertheless stepped aside nearly a week after the Nov. 10 order criticized by national gay rights groups, the state’s Republican governor and others.

(Whitehurst)

This is a relevant question, I think: For all we might hear our politically conservative neighbors bawl about liberal judicial activism, what would they call a judge who has to make stuff up in order to desperately cling to traditional family values?

Just like we didn’t hear them complaining when the Sixth Circuit decided to arbitrarily recriminalize homosexuality for the purpose of sending a case to the Supreme Court.

Then again, I still recall the cries of liberal judicial activism in Roper v. Simmons, in which the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the decision of one of the most conservative state supreme courts in the country.

A judge getting caught faking it as he goes in order to exercise his right of conscience to deny equal protection in his own courtroom? If that isn’t an example of the sort of judicial activism our conservative neighbors constantly complain about, then … er … well, it would be one thing to say, then it is no longer clear what, exactly, they are complaining about, except, you konw, something about the day ending in -y.

____________________

Whitehurst, Lindsay. “Utah judge removes himself from gay foster parent case”. Associated Press. 16 November 2015.

Nearly on Cue

Lebanon dispenses wisdom and confidence. (Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, episode 4, 'The Ark Adrift on the Lake ...')

“I am opposed to gay marriages on religious grounds, and my conscience will not allow me to sign off on marriage certificates for gay couples. People should not have to violate their conscience to run or to serve.”

Mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas (R-PA, Pottstown)

Why do I have a song stuck in my head?

Just a couple fuckin’ more weeks to go! I wanna be Kim Davis! Nothin’ to do but be an asshole! I wanna be Kim Davis!

Mayor Sharon Valentine-Thomas (R-PA/Pottstown), in undated file photo from Digital First Media.That ain’t right.

Right?

Never mind.

Evan Brandt, for The Times Herald:

Statements by Pottstown Mayor Sharon Thomas in the usually sleepy race for register of wills have once again put Montgomery County in the spotlight in Pennsylvania’s debate about same sex marriage.

Thomas, a Republican, told The Intelligencer newspaper that she will not personally issue any same sex marriage licenses if she wins the race against incumbent Democrat D. Bruce Hanes.

Instead, as in the now-famous case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who spent five days in jail after defying a court order to issue same-sex licenses, Thomas said she will seek court permission to allow the licenses to be issued by a subordinate.

“I am opposed to gay marriages on religious grounds, and my conscience will not allow me to sign off on marriage certificates for gay couples,” Thomas, an ordained minister who is serving her second nonconsecutive term as Pottstown’s mayor, told The Intelligencer. “People should not have to violate their conscience to run or to serve.”

Thomas said, “I am not an obstructionist and will not force my values on others.”

There is a joke about Republicans and the idea that government does not or cannot work; why would anybody hire the applicant who says that about a job? In the twenty-first century, however, we need not be surprised that the punch line becomes a real campaign plank. That is to say, it’s kind of a one-turn maze; the punch line exists because it is reliable enough. To the other, this is something of an escalation.

(more…)

Another One

Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) takes the oath of office during Organization Day at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, 18 November 2014. (AP Photo/A.J. Mast)

So …

Indiana House Majority Leader Jud McMillin, a cosponsor of the state’s controversial “religious freedom” law resigned his seat abruptly Tuesday, after a sexually explicit video starring the representative was sent via text message from McMillin’s cell phone. The Indianapolis Star reported it is unclear who sent the text or how broadly it was distributed.

This is the second time McMillin has resigned from a job over sexual misconduct allegations.

McMillin was a rising star in Indiana Republican politics, a conservative who also spoke out against marriage equality, opposes nondiscrimination protections for LGBT people, and coauthored legislation to prevent an LGBT youth group from obtaining a specialty license plate. In a prepared statement released yesterday, McMillin said the “time is right for me to pass the torch and spend more time with my family.”

(Browning)

… what, really, is anyone supposed to say?

Here’s another paragraph about this paragon of Indiana virtue:

In 2011, a Bilerico Project expose on the lawmaker highlighted McMillin’s past brushes with the law and allegations of sexual impropriety. The site reported that McMillin had faced petty theft allegations, vehicular homicide charges, and was forced to resign a job as a deputy prosecutor after a domestic violence victim claimed he forced her to press charges against her will and coerced her into a sexual relationship. Court filings in the victim’s subsequent lawsuit against for the former prosecutor show McMillin sent her incredibly graphic sexually explicit photographs from his phone and was caught having sex with her in a state park.

This is a guy who Indiana Christians rallied behind, because, you know, he said he would “protect the institution of marriage”.

Now that we understand a bit more about what that actually means, can any of us really say we are surprised?

____________________

Image note: Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville) takes the oath of office during Organization Day at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, 18 November 2014. (AP Photo/A.J. Mast)

Browning, Bil. “Antigay Indiana Lawmaker Resigns After Sex Tape Text”. The Advocate. 30 September 2015.

The One About When the Pope and the Adulterer Walked Into a Bar

Pope Francis adjusts his glasses in front of his chair, which has an image of the Shroud of Turin woven into the red fabric, as he leads a mass during a two-day pastoral visit in Turin, Italy, June 21, 2015. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino

A whiff of scandal always helps grab the interest:

Williams is a vulnerable messenger for such a critique: He was a priest of a secretive and influential religious order, the Legionaries of Christ, a longtime favorite of the Catholic right, which the Vatican has been trying to overhaul after revelations of lurid sex and money scandals.

He later left the priesthood to marry a woman — the daughter of Mary Ann Glendon, a conservative Catholic law professor and ambassador to the Holy See under President Bush — with whom he’d secretly had a child while he was still a cleric.

(Gibson)

Okay, that’s not the real scandal, except it probably should be, and there is no actual, real scandal.

So here’s how it goes. Among those invited to a very large reception for Pope Francis are some gay Catholics, gay advocates, and even a gay Episcopal bishop. Oh, and a nun who apparently doesn’t know how to keep her mouth shut, or something, because we’re all supposed to be really, really upset about the lot of them, or something like that.

(more…)

The Curse of Yig (Modern Archie Mix)

Eric Fanning, left, the acting secretary of the U.S. Air Force, briefs reporters on the state of the Air Force as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III looks on at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, 13 December 2013. (Photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

(sigh)

Perhaps former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee should consider following Messrs. Perry and Walker through the exit. That is to say, if advocating lawlessness as part of his appeal to be the sworn executor of the laws and protector of the Constitution while crying about Liberty and Justice for All requiring Christian supremacism wasn’t enough, perhaps setting up Steve Benen for this kind of line ought to be the clincher:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)On Friday, for example, President Obama nominated Eric Fanning as the next Secretary of the Army. No one has questioned Fanning’s qualifications, but GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee condemned the nomination because Fanning is gay. “It’s clear President Obama is more interested in appeasing America’s homosexuals than honoring America’s heroes,” the Republican said, adding, “Homosexuality is not a job qualification. The U.S. military is designed to keep Americans safe and complete combat missions, not conduct social experiments.”

It’s an “Archie Bunker” posture in a “Modern Family” world.

Yeah, thanks, Steve! Something about low hanging fruit goes here. To the other, why would Mr. Benen not? You don’t get excuses to throw out stupidly predictable jokes like that every day, no matter how hard Republicans might try.

(groan)

____________________

Image note: Top ― Eric Fanning, left, the acting secretary of the U.S. Air Force, briefs reporters on the state of the Air Force as Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III looks on at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, 13 December 2013. (detail: Photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo). Right ― Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee waits backstage before speaking during the Freedom Summit Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Des Moines, Iowa (detail: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Benen, Steve. “The perils of a small-tent party”. msnbc. 21 September 2015.

The Not-So-Gay Divorceé

VIII. Adjustment.

The question of a divorceé has long plagued Christian supremacists who denounce marriage equality and gay rights, but, you know, really? Not only has Kim Davis already licensed transgender man and his pansexual wife, and most likely also issued plenty of marriage licenses to divorceés, but it also turns out that Ms. Davis is herself a serial adulterer.

On this point, Travis Gettys of Raw Story considers an appearance by Dan Savage on msnbc; the author, advice columnist, and editor of The Stranger, Mr. Savage spared no punches:

“I think Kim Davis is waiting to cash in,” Savage told MSNBC. “I predicted from the beginning that she would defy all the court orders, defy the Supreme Court, she would ultimately be held in contempt of court, lose her job, perhaps go to prison for a short amount of time. And then she will have written for her, ghost written books. She will go on the right-wing lecture circuit and she’ll never have to do an honest day’s work ever again in her life.”

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, in a mugshot, 3 September 2015, after being held in contempt of court by U.S. District Judge David Bunning, after she refused to comply with the law and issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.“This is about someone hypocritically cashing in, and she is a hypocrite,” he added.

Savage referred to the defiant clerk’s statement complaining that courts were asking her to “violate a central teaching of Scripture and of Jesus Himself regarding marriage” — which the columnist dismissed as ridiculous.

“This is a woman who’s been divorced three times and married four times,” he said, reading from the US News & World Report article that pointed out Davis “gave birth to twins five months after divorcing her first husband, (and) they were fathered by her third husband but adopted by her second husband.”

“She’s now onto her fourth husband,” Savage said. “Jesus Christ himself in scripture condemned divorce, called it adultery and forbids it. Jesus Christ himself in scripture says not one word about same-sex marriage.”

Savage said the U.S. Supreme Court had already decided the issue of same-sex marriage, and he said Davis clearly should have followed the law all along.

“She’s not being asked to perform a sacrament, she is tasked with ascertaining that the people in front of her, the couple in front of her, have a legal right to get married and to provide them with that license,” he said. “She is not a minister. She actually thinks she works for God there in the county courthouse, when she actually works for Caesar — and someone needs to acquaint her with that fact.”

Or we might attend Mr. Savage himself, who recently blogged, among other notes:

I would say I can’t wait for a Muslim county clerk in, say, Dearborn, Michigan (which has a huge Muslim community), to refuse to issue a marriage license to a Christian couple on the grounds that the this kafir couple hasn’t been paying jizya… but that’s not going to happen. Religious minorities in this country intuitively understand that to empower religious bigots like Davis is to paint bullseyes on their own backs. So the Jesus-freak goons at the Liberty Counsel work to frame discrimination as a “religious freedom” because they’re confident that American Christians will be the ones doing the discriminating, not suffering from it.

This is an important point. Something about functional reality goes here.

(more…)

Tomorrow, Today

Detail of frame from Sekirei.

I should be embarrassed. Or, you know, maybe not.

Really, I thought the right wing would have taken the hint and moved on to the next front. That is to say, my prognostication somehow failed to account for just how stubborn is this conservative desperation:

There have been predictions for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016, some of it wishful thinking by gay advocates. Back in 2012, Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, for example, commenting on the lack of discussion of gay issues in the three debates between President Obama and Mitt Romney, said, “What we’re seeing is proof positive that gay issues aren’t the wedge they used to be.” The public, he said, has “moved on.”

Fast forward to 2015: Ted Cruz, Scott Walker and Rick Perry have expressed blatant anti-gay positions, from banning gay scout leaders to supporting yet another marriage amendment. Some pundits believe this to be politically dangerous, certainly in a general election, and they’re right when it comes to the more overt bigotry. As I noted last week, Scott Walker clearly crossed a line — and walked back — when he said the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults “protected children.”

But new polling underscores that covert messaging — the dog whistle — could do the trick for the GOP, just as it has worked for the party on race and gender for decades now. Jeb Bush has defended “religious liberty” — the new code words for anti-gay positions — even while saying gay couples deserved “respect” for their relationships. And just last week, Bush said he supported the idea of anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people, though he thought they should be handled “state-by-state” (contrary to a comprehensive federal bill introduced by Democrats in Congress today that would protect LGBT people nationally).

But in comments that directly followed, Bush said that he believes there should be an exception for people with religious objections to allowing gays and lesbians to marry, such as a florist who refused to sell flowers to a gay couple for their wedding. In other words, those who would discriminate in the first place should be exempt from laws banning discrimination. This will in fact be the more subtle — but no less vile and discriminatory — gay-bashing of the 2016 election.

The one and only Michelangelo Signorile recalls predictions “for several years that gay-bashing by GOP presidential candidates would be dead by 2016”, and appropriately notes at least some of it was wishful thinking. And perhaps we might simply be considering a different perspective on the question of gay-bashing, but it seems unclear just how any of that wishful thinking would have worked. We would not fault Mr. Signorile for his recollection; he isn’t wrong. But it has never been clear quite how that relief should work.

(more…)