The Daily Agenda for Sunday, December 9

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2012

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Same-Sex Marriages Begin: Washington. On Thursday, LGBT couples flooded county auditors offices across the state to take out marriage licenses under a new law that was approved by voters last month. Today, after the three day mandatory waiting period, those couples will begin marrying. Seattle City Hall has been transformed into a massive wedding chapel, and it will open for several hours today with several judges donating their time to marry couples. More than 140 couples have signed up for slots and those weddings will begin at 10:00 a.m. In Olympia, four local judges made themselves available to perform wedding ceremonies beginning just after midnight at the Thurston County courthouse. Former Air Force flight nurse Maj. Margaret Witt, who successfully challenged “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” will marry, and so will retired nurse, Army Col. Grethe Cammermeyer in Langley. They will be joined by nine other couples who will also get married there, right before an annual Christmas party that will double as a wedding reception. Voters in Maryland and Maine also approved marriage equality laws during last months elections. Maine’s same-sex couples will be allowed to marry beginning on December 29, while Maryland’s new marriage equality law goes into effect on January 1.

Other vents This Weekend: Mad Bear, Madrid, Spain.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gall Bladder Problems Are For Sissies: 1927. Dr. William A. Evans’s column, “How to Keep Well” was the first syndicated health column in the U.S. In 1927, he reviewed (or, more accurately, mocked) the theories of a “Dr. Draper,” who theorized that we were born with whatever fatal diseases that would eventually do us in in the end. “His opinion,” wrote Evans, “is that if you are born to die of gall stones you’ll die of gall stones whether it comes to pass or not.” Dr. Draper also believed that certain shapes and contours of the body and head could be used to identify certain diseases. Draper soon discarded that theory in favor of one in which, as Evans described it, held that “the mental makeup, the character, personality, that he would have us believe is the background for certain diseases.” Evans continued:

Up to now he is working principally with gall stones and gall bladder infections, on the one hand, and ulcer of the stomach on the other. He finds that people who are prone to have stomach ulcers have a mental makeup in which there is great fearfulness. They have but little stability of mood. They make quick adjustments to change in environment. They are ideal opportunities. They are mental sprinters with little endurance. However, after exhaustion they are quickly rehabilitated by food, by short periods of rest and by relief from anxiety. They have heterosexual urges.

On the other hand, the people who are prone to gall bladder disease have great stability of mood, they are phlegmatic, and they have slow reactivity. They have but little fearfulness. They are placid, calm and not given to worries, fears or anxieties. They have more tendency to homosexual urges.

Science!

Minnesota State Sen. Allan Spear at a gay rights rally in 1981.

Minnesota State Senator Comes Out: 1974. Democrats sailed into state offices in 1974 in the wake of President Nixon’s resignation due to the Watergate scandal. But State Senator Allan Spear, who had entered the state legislature in 1972 and therefore wasn’t up for re-election that year, was more interested in another election that was taking place half a country away. That year, Elaine Noble would become the first openly gay person to be elected to a state legislature when she won her seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives (see Nov 5). “I had not yet met Elaine,” Spear later wrote, “but her example inspired me. If I did come out, I would have company, even though she would be a thousand miles away.”

Shortly after that election, Spear went to New York to speak at a gay conference. There, he met with Dr. Howard Brown, who had founded the National Gay Task Force in 1973 (see Oct 15). “In fact,” he wrote, “the most rewarding part of the weekend was seeing Howard again and having long discussions with him and some of his friends. In the struggle that was going on in my own mind about coming out, nothing was more encouraging than seeing stable, successful professional gay men who were open about their sexuality.”

Spear had already decided that it was best to come out under his own terms rather than have his sexuality brought out in circumstances which were not under his control. He had been in the state Senate long enough to establish a reputation fro being a multi-issue legislator, and his re-election was far-enough off in the future that he felt that it wouldn’t dominate the campaign when the time came. But most importantly, he was ready. “I had crossed the barrier with my parents a year before. Now my friendship with Howard Brown and the example of Elaine Noble had convinced me that I would not be marginalized by coming out. … I picked up the phone and called Deborah Howell at the Minneapolis Star. We made an appointment for lunch at a downtown Minneapolis restaurant called the Normandy Village on December 5.”

Four days later, the Star ran with a front page headline just under the fold reading “State Sen. Allan Spear Declares He’s Homosexual.” Spear was pleased to see that the story was a positive one. “The telephone rang all afternoon and evening. I received only one hostile call, from an elderly constituent who had voted for me and now felt hurt and betrayed. Otherwise the calls were wholly supportive — many from friends, of course, but others from people I didn’t know, both gay and straight, who congratulated me for my courage and wished me the best. The next day, I started receiving letters and telegrams from all over the country.”

Spear would go on to serve 28 years in the state Senate before retiring in 2000 as Senate President. In 1993 he was instrumental in passing the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which provided anti-discrimination protections in education, employment, and housing for LGBT Minnesotans. That project took twenty years to accomplish, but he finally did it with bipartisan support. Sen. Spear died in 2008, and his autobiography, Crossing the Barriers, was published posthumously in 2010.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Ronnie Paris, Jr.: 2001. He was only three years old when he died on January 28, 2005 at the hands of his father. The abuse had been going on for a very long time. In 2002, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services removed Ronnie from his home and placed him in protective custody after he had been admitted to the hospital for malnourishment and a broken arm. On December 14, five days after this third birthday, he was returned to his parents. Just a month later on January 22, he slipped into a coma while sleeping on the couch of a family friend as his parents attended a Bible study. He died six days later from brain injuries. His mother later told detectives that her husband, Ronnie Paris, Sr., had repeatedly beaten his son, slammed him into walls, and forced him to participate in father-son boxing matches until he would shake, cry, and wet himself. Ronnie’s father did all this because he though his son was gay, so he beat him to keep Ronnie from growing up “soft.” Ronnie Paris, Sr. was convicted of second degree manslaughter and aggravated child abuse and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. If Ronnie, Jr., were alive today, he would be eleven years old.

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).

As always, please consider this your open thread for the day.

Steve

December 9th, 2012

You make it sounds like Witt will get married to Cammermayer. That’s not the case.

Rhonda Frazier-Evans

December 9th, 2012

Witt and Cammermayer are NOT marrying each other.

Jim Burroway

December 9th, 2012

My apologies. I misread the reports.

gregory brown

December 9th, 2012

That reminder of the Ronnie Paris story is so sad. It would have been so if his father had waited until the child was 11 to murder him.
I wonder is Ronnie Sr. is still doing “Bible study” in prison.

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