The Daily Agenda for Friday, November 2

Jim Burroway

November 2nd, 2012

This is the final week of campaigning before voters go to the polls next Tuesday. Polling shows that the four marriage ballot questions are tightening up in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington. Opponents have gone on the air in all four states with their long-anticipated school attack ads, contending that marriage equality will result in gay sex demonstrations. Or something.

Here is our final wrap-up for 2012 until election day:

Maryland Question 6: If passed, Question 6 will provide marriage equality for Maryland same-sex couples. Marylanders for Marriage Equality is fighting a tight battle for Question 6’s passage. Hurricane Sandy closed early voting on Monday and Tuesday this week, and many Marylanders, particularly those on the Eastern Shore, are contending with power outages and flooding, which complicates the get-out-the-vote efforts. The state has extended early voting today, from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

What you can do: It’s crunch time. If you haven’t voted, please do so today. You can also spread the word about Question 6, fairness, and equality through their One Million Conversations initiative, and up for an Election Day volunteer shift with the campaign.

Maine Marriage Initiative: A “Yes” vote on Question 1 will allow same-sex couples to marry in Maine. Mainers United for Marriage is the main campaign behind the initiative. Mainers United released an ad featuring Brian Arsenault who hopes to marry the girl of his dreams when he gets older, like his two mothers want to do. Their get-out-the-vote effort gets serious this weekend, with volunteers calling on supporters to help fill 3,000 GOTV shifts beginning Saturday morning until the polls close on Tuesday. Shifts include knocking on doors and making phone calls to voters.

What you can do: You can volunteer for a GOTV shift here or volunteer for other activities here.

Minnesota Marriage Amendment: Amendment 1 is the ballot proposal to amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Minnesotans United for All Families is the main group fighting against the amendment’s passage. On Monday, they kicked off their GOTV efforts with a Vote No Rally at Northrop Plaza at the University of Minnesota. Nearly 3,000 folks joined us to hear from speakers including Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, Minnesota Vikings Punter Chris Kluwe, Minnesota Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve, Freedom to Marry’s Thalia Zepatos, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, Republican Madeline Koch, and Minnesota native Rachael Leigh Cook. They’be set up dozens of Action Centers across Minnesota and nearly 15,000 volunteer shifts have been recruited.

What you can do: Login with your Facebook account and starting using the new kNOw Tool to help identify “no” voters that you know. You can also sign up to volunteer for the GOTV efforts here.

Washington Referendum 74: If Referendum 74 is approved, same-sex couples will be able to marry just like everyone else in Washington state. Washington United for Marriage is working for R74’s passage. As is the case with the other three states, this week is all about getting out the vote, which for Washington looks a little different from the other states because Washingtonians don’t go to a polling location to vote. The entire state votes by mail and ballots need to be postmarked by November 6. This means that we probably won’t know the results until several days after election day. Washington’s GOTV is labor intensive, through phone calls and door-to-door visits. In one single night last week, they finished the day logging 75,291 calls to voters across the state. Their door-to-door campaign, Knockvember, kicks off seriously this weekend.

What you can do: You can volunteer for phone banking, door-to-door canvassing or campus crawls here. And be sure to get your ballot in the mail and postmarked by Tuesday, November 6.

Pride Celebration This Weekend: Palm Springs, CA.

AIDS Walk This Weekend: San Luis Obispo, CA.

Other Events This Weekend: Fall Diversity, Eureka Springs, AR; Side By Side LGBT International Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia.

NARTH Annual Conference: Orlando, FL. It’s been a difficult year for NARTH, now that the California legislature has banned licensed therapists from providing Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) to minors. That has to hurt since, as NARTH’s co-founder Joseph Nicolosi admitted recently, half of their clients are teenagers and they represent a growing customer base. Plus, NARTH is now on the outs with Exodus International, first because there is a fundamental disagreement on whether gay people can change, and second because Nicolosi recommended using porn as part of that change process during Exodus’s 2010 conference — a definite no-no as far as the Evangelical-oriented Exodus is concerned.

This year, NARTH chose Exodus’s own hometown as the location for their annual conference and commiseration party. The featured speaker this year is Mathew Staver, Executive Director of Liberty Counsel and Dean at Jerry Fallwel’s Liberty Law School. NARTH recently announced that Staver will join with NARTH to challenge California’s SOCE ban in court. Staver’s law school is currently being sued as part of a larger racketeering lawsuit in connection with Isabella Miller-Jenkins’s kidnapping in direct violation of a court order. The conference begins today and continues through Saturday at the Renaissance Orlando Airport Hotel.

Observations about “Sexual Inversion in Women”: 1912. Exactly one hundred years ago today, the journal Lancet-Clinic published an article by Dr. Douglasl C. McMurtrie which attempts to explain lesbianism or, as he put it, “sexual inversion in women.” McMurtrie set the stage for his discussion by observing that most physicians may know little to nothing about homosexuality — or “sexual inversion” — in general:

Cases of abnormal sexual development are liable to come under the observation of the psychologist as frequently if not more frequently than under the notice of the physician. That this is true is due to the fact that very few such cases are ever brought to the physician in a professional capacity. The subjects tend to conceal the fact of their condition, and are inclined to work out their own salvation. Only when their course conflicts violently with the interests of the community is the medical man called upon to diagnose and prescribe. The great majority of the sexually abnormal live their lives without ever coming in contact with the medical profession, at least in so far as their physical characteristics are concerned.

And given the relative rarity of physicians’ experience with homosexuality, McMurtrie wrote that the medical profession’s exposure to lesbianism was rarer still:

Perhaps one of the least known phases of sexual abnormality is that of homosexuality in women. There have been many studies of inversion, but practically all devote but little attention to female manifestations. …One reason for the lack of data on the subject is undoubtedly the difficulty of recognizing sexual inversion in women, due to the customs of the day which permit and even call for caresses and outward demonstrations between members of the female sex. In addition women are very generally ignorant of the details of sexual character and, not recognizing themselves the character of their tendencies, there would be greater difficulty for others to secure definite information.

What followed then were descriptions of ten case descriptions, three of them men who were included as “of immediate interest to the subject” of homosexuality generally. Of the five women, three were prostitutes and one was an actress. Two more had scant details of only a sentence or two. One had a longstanding relationship with another women who cheated on her, plunging her into depression. When , after two years, her lover returned, all was well. This woman, identified only as “G,” seemed to have a particular self-assurance about her sexuality, which McMurtrie obviously regarded with some surprise:

G. has only cared for this one woman. She describes this passion, however, as the most intense possible in life and the companionship of the loved one as the greatest happiness. She can see nothing wrong in such relationships except promiscuity, and regards the bond as being as holy as the conventional marriage vow. To this very unusual history I have only to add that the woman in question is highly regarded by all who know her, and not even her relatives and closest friends have the slightest idea of her sexual characteristics.

[Source: Douglas C McMurtie, “Some observations on the psychology of sexual inversion in women.” Lancet-Clinic 108, no. 18 (November 2, 1912): 487-490.]

Oregon’s Measure 9 Defeated: 1992. By a vote of 56-44%, voters in Oregon rejected Measure 9, which would have amended the state constitution to prohibit the expenditure of “monies or properties to promote, encourage or facilitate homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism or masochism.” This would have banned gay groups from using city parks or books about homosexuality in the public library. The measure was an effort of the Oregon Citizens Alliance, a conservative religious right group that was closely aligned with the Christian Coalition and was headed by Lon Mabon, with Scott Lively serving as his right hand man.

The campaign for Measure 9 was particularly nasty, with the OCA releasing a graphic video depicting gays as universally debauched and corrupt, while extolling the virtues of two “ex-gays.” The campaign also saw Lively found guilty of using unreasonable force to remove a free-lance photographer from an OCA meeting which debuted the video. Typical of anything associated with Lively, the OCA refused to acknowledge the magnitude of Measure 9’s defeat, and vowed to return to the ballot box two years later. But Measure 19 in went down in flames in 1994 by a similar margin. A poll in December 1992 found that 57% of all Oregonians had an unfavorable view of the OCA, against only a 14% with a favorable view. Lively called the poll “flawed.”

Colorado’s Amendment 2 Passed: 1992. You win one, you lose one. That’s what happened in 1992. The same year in which Oregonians rejected Measure 9, voters in Colorado passed Amendment 2 to that state’s constitution which prohibited state and local governments or court from taking any action recognizing gays or lesbians as a protected class in anti-discrimination measures. The measure passed 60% to 40%.

The Amendment immediately landed in court, with the State Supreme Court ruling that the measure couldn’t pass “strict scrutiny” under the Federal Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. When supporters appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, they ruled in 1995 in the landmark Romer v Evans that the measure didn’t even pass muster under a rational basis test. Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, found that Amendment 2 went far beyond prohibiting “special rights” to gay people as supporters argued. It went further by actually disenfranchising gay people — and only gay people — from an important part of the political process. While everyone else could ask for redress from local governments and courts, gay people were singled out for being barred from that right of citizenship. “(Amendment 2) is at once too narrow and too broad,” he wrote. “It identifies persons by a single trait and then denies them protection across the board. The resulting disqualification of a class of persons from the right to seek specific protection from the law is unprecedented in our jurisprudence.”

Helen Sandoz: 1920. She went by “Sandy,” and she was born of hardy stock. She grew up on an Oregon farm, and after earning a bachelor’s degree she moved to Alaska for a time before moving back to Washington and Oregon where she held supervisory position in several department stores. One morning as she was driving to a bank, she rear-ended a farmer’s truck. The accident seemed minor, so she continued on to the bank. The teller saw her and asked “Miss Sandoz, did you know that there is blood trickling down your chin?” Turned out she had broken her neck and had to spend the a year in a full-body cast. She was never again able to sit still in a chair or remain mobile for any length of time, so she changed her career to one which allowed her to keep moving: she became a sign printer.

When Sandoz moved to San Francisco a few years later, she learned that a new organization for lesbians was being organized called the Daughters of Bilitis (see Oct 19). As DoB co-founder Phyllis Lyon recalled, “Sandy was one of the only lesbians wer knew in San Francisco when we moved here from Seattle in 1953. Del (Martin, Lyon’s partner) knew Sandy beforehand, when she was with a woman everyone called ‘Bridge.’ We visited them and Sandy’s partner wanted nothing to do with DOB. When they broke up in 1957, we got Sandy.” When the DoB filed for a state charter in 1957, Sandoz was among the those who signed her real name. She did use a pseudonym for her public DoB work however: as “Helen Sanders” she became DoB president in 1957. That year, she represented the Daughters at the ONE Midwinter Institute in Los Angeles, where she met Stella Rush, who was reporting on the Institute for ONE Magazine. The two hit it off, and later that year Sandoz moved to L.A. As The Ladder said when she announced her move, San Francisco’s loss was Los Angeles’s gain, as Sandoz quickly set about the work of establishing an L.A. chapter for the Daughters.

She also continued to work with the DoB’s groundbreaking magazine The Ladder, contributing articles as “Helen Sanders” and as “Ben Cat,” a persona she used to explore a wider range of topics from the perspective of a house cat that she shared with Rush. Sandoz put her artistic skills to use in designing several covers, and she served as editor from 1966 through 1968.

By 1968, the DoB was being split along several lines: Between those who wanted a more activist political organization verses those who wanted the DoB to be a social club, between those who wanted a strong national organization versus those who sought greater autonomy for local chapters, and between those who saw the DoB as primarily a gay rights organization for women and those who believed that the Daughters should throw its weight behind other feminist groups like the National Organization for Women. While Sandoz believed in NOW’s goals, she was put off by some of the anti-male rhetoric. She and Rush had spent their entire lives working with male (and female) members of ONE and the Mattachine Society, and they regarded the fight for gay and lesbian rights as being one fight. Consequently, Sandoz and Rush withdrew from the Daughters after a disastrous 1968 convention in order to concentrate on advocacy for both gay men and women. Sandoz died in 1987 in Anaheim of lung cancer at the age of 66.

[Sources: Stella Rush. “Helen Sandoz a.k.a. Helen Sanders a.k.a Ben Cat (1920-1987).” In Vern L. Bullough’s (ed.) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context (London: Routledge, 2002): 145-147.

Marcia M. Gallo. Different Daughters: A History of the Daughters of Bilitis and the Rise of the Lesbian Rights Movement(Emeryville, CA: Seal Press, 2007).]

k.d. lang: 1961. Growing up on Canada’s western prairie in Alberta, she became fascinated with the life and music of country music star Patsy Cline. She formed a tribute band called the Reclines in Cline’s honor in 1983, but when her debut album, A Truly Western Experience was released in 1984, the ReClines became a more conventional back-up band for a most unconventional Country and Western singer. Her career was taking off in Canada when, in 1987, Roy Orbison tapped her to record a duet of his hit “Crying.” That collaboration won them a Grammy in 1989.

That award coincided with her American breakout with the Grammy Award-winning Absolute Torch and Twang, which featured such standout songs as “Full Moon of Love,” “Big Boned Gal,” and my favorite, “Pulling Back the Reins.” In 1992, she shifted gears with Ingénue an adult contemporary album shorn of her country influences, which included her most popular song “Constant Craving,” giving her yet another Grammy Award. That coincided with her coming out as a lesbian in The Advocate. That, coupled with her veganism and animal rights advocacy — her “Meat Stinks” raised a huge stink in her cattle-ranching hometown in Alberta — put her country music career in deep freeze.

But it has done little to slow down her career. If anything, it gave her the freedom to become a vocalist — not a singer, but a vocalist of the highest calibre — whose range is utterly unbounded by the petty distinctions of genre and styles. Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote, “Few singers command such perfection of pitch. Her voice, at once beautiful and unadorned and softened with a veil of smoke, invariably hits the middle of a note and remains there. She discreetly flaunted her technique, drawing out notes and shading them from sustained cries into softer, vibrato-laden murmurs. She balanced her commitment to the material with humor, projecting a twinkling merriment behind it all.”

But when it comes right down to it, words cannot express the artistry of lang’s voice. And so at this point, all I can do is to shut up and listen as she sings Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” during Canada’s 2005 Juno Awards in Winnipeg. If you know nothing else about her, then the only thing you really need to know is that she can do this:

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

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?


November 2nd, 2012

I was on Colorado Gov. Romer’s staff in 1992 and I remember that night very well.

There was a 2:00 a.m. phone call from a friend, frightened, truly frightened, feeling deeply that the passage of Amendment 2 would unleash an onslaught of violence against LGBT folks, terminations from jobs, evictions from apartments. With no laws against discrimination, what protection would there be?

I went to the office early. The policy director, my boss, and also gay, and I met to talk about what’s next. After putting together something of a plan, we asked each other “Are you okay?” I said “No, but we have work to do for the people and I can do it.” And he said the same thing.

So while he spent the morning with the Governor poring over election results, I became the defacto liaison with the LGBT community. First Baptist Church of Denver, across from the capitol, hosted a community meeting — bless them. 400 or 500 people crowded in. Frightened, angry, hurt people.

Mayor Webb, Congresswoman Schroeder, Governor Romer, other public figures, spoke. Their consistent message was don’t give up the fight for equality.

20 years ago and my bones still feel it.


November 2nd, 2012

It’s actually interesting looking back and seeing how many well known women in the arts in the late 19th and early 20th century like actresses, writers, poets, painters or sculptors were lesbians. A lot of them lived at least part of the time in Europe where they could be relatively open about their sexuality. Being in those circles and communities probably isolated them a bit from the general population.


November 2nd, 2012

Thanks for the magnificent k.d. lang video. It was new to me, and I will add it to my favorites.

I’m not a musician, but it seems to me that there’s something about Cohen’s “Hallelujah” that exalts the phenomenal singer, and exposes the wannabe. You can’t fake it, you can’t sing it credibly if you can’t sing.

A version that overwhelms me every time I hear it is Jeff Buckley’s (original studio version). I’d recommend it, too.


November 3rd, 2012

Headline regarding 2010 Winter Olympics:
“Did A Homophobic NBC Deny K.D. Lang An Olympics Ceremony Close-Up?”

Includes her Hallelujah performance in Vancouver. BTW, Haitian-born Governor-General Michaelle Jean was, at the time, the representative of Canada’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth.

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