The Daily Agenda for Thursday, May 19

Jim Burroway

May 19th, 2011

Ugandan MP David Bahati (AP Photo/Ronald Kabuubi)

Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” Bill Returns: Kampala. According to a BBC Africa Network Report, today’s opening of Uganda’s 9th Parliament has brought with it the revival of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. There had been talk of a procedure by which the new Parliament may take up unfinished business from the old Parliament. If this report is correct, then it appears that this procedure has been invoked. Stay tuned.

Civil Unions Vote: Rhode Island. The Rhode Island House is scheduled to vote on a watered-down civil unions bill today. The bill is very controversial — marriage equality supporters say it’s a second-class step, while anti-gay opponents decry any step toward recognizing gay relationships in any form. The move toward civil unions was seen by many on the both sides as an unacceptable compromise, but it cleared the House Judiciary Committee by a strong 9-3 vote.

EQCA Town Hall: San Francisco. Equality California will host a town hall meeting in San Francisco to discuss whether we should wait for the courts to restore the freedom to marry — a decision which could have a nationwide impact — or whether Californians should try to overturn Prop. 8 through a ballot measure in 2012. The town hall will take place this evening at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market St. from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Habitat for Humanity Pride Build: Montgomery Co., MD. Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County (MD) is kicking off the inaugural Pride Build. There will be a cocktail reception and fundraiser at the home of Jeffrey Slavin, Mayor of the Town of Somerset and Pride Build Steering Committee Member this evening from, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Please click here to register. There’s more information about Pride Build here.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Buffalo, NY; Raleigh/Durham, NC.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Long Beach, CA; Nantes, France; Tours, France.

Oscar Wilde Released from Prison: 1897. This date in history ended a six-year ordeal for Oscar Wilde. In 1891, he was denounced as a homosexual by the Marquess of Queensbury. Wilde, who was involved with the marquess’ son, Alfred Douglass, sued the Marquess for libel but lost the case when evidence supported the marquess’ allegations. Because homosexuality was still considered a crime in England, that evidence led to Wilde’s arrest. His first trial resulted in a hung jury, but a second jury in 1895 sentenced him to two years of hard labor. Wilde was imprisoned in Pentonville and then Wandsworth prisons in London. The regime consisted of “hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed.” Ill with dysentery and weakened from hunger, Wilde collapsed during Chapel, bursting his right ear drum. He spent two months in the infirmary, and his health never fully recovered.

He was later transferred to Reading prison, where he wrote a 50,000 word letter to Douglass. He wasn’t allowed to send the letter, but he was permitted to take it with him when he was released. The letter, since named De Profundis was published in 1962’s Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde. It reads, it part:

When first I was put into prison some people advised me to try and forget who I was. It was ruinous advice. It is only by realising what I am that I have found comfort of any kind. Now I am advised by others to try on my release to forget that I have ever been in a prison at all. I know that would be equally fatal. It would mean that I would always be haunted by an intolerable sense of disgrace, and that those things that are meant for me as much as for anybody else – the beauty of the sun and moon, the pageant of the seasons, the music of daybreak and the silence of great nights, the rain falling through the leaves, or the dew creeping over the grass and making it silver – would all be tainted for me, and lose their healing power, and their power of communicating joy. To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a denial of the soul.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. PLEASE, don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).


May 19th, 2011

One has to continue to be very suspect of the ongoing logic for “civil unions”. I hope the vote fails. It might finally and perhaps even decisively change the tenor of the debate away from the eyewash that it is some kind of apt “compromise”.

The “something is better than nothing” logic for supporting civil unions is a trap.

The “stepping stone” argument is a speculation.

Continuing to codify “civil union”, a legal status unique to gays, as a “compromise” is wrong enough and risky enough to be a non-starter.


May 19th, 2011

except several states that started with civil unions now have marriage equality, so your whole argument is false. as it was when you posted it a couple of days ago.

Timothy Kincaid

May 19th, 2011

It should be noted that Wilde’s hard labor sentence was, in effect, a death sentence. He died two years after release from health issues created in prison. He was 46.

Why is it that nations so need to destroy that which shines the brightest? Wilde (and Turing and others) should be Britain’s pride, not her shame.


May 19th, 2011

@Timothy-It should also be noted that Wilde is Ireland’s pride, not Britain’s!


May 19th, 2011


One might doubt how much weight it has, but what I said about the part you object to is not false.

In RI case, the issue is complicated by the fact that the CU bill is a step back, because you can already be gay and married in RI, so long as you get married on the CT shore, say.

There is no certain path from CU to marriage. There is the risk that more CU will create a landscape in which it “looks like” those jurisdictions that authorized marriage “went too far”.

Timothy Kincaid

May 20th, 2011


Forgive my ignorance. I know Wilde was Irish, but I thought that he lived, worked, and was prosecuted in England. (though, come to think of it, I’m not sure).

I suppose that would make him Ireland’s pride and Britain’s shame.

Timothy Kincaid

May 20th, 2011


I’ve heard that RI has no law forbidding the recognition of out of state marriages. However, unlike New York and Maryland, I don’t believe that any authority (AG. Gov., court) has ever confirmed this right.

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