The Daily Agenda for Thursday, February 28

Jim Burroway

February 28th, 2013

Pioneering gay rights activists Phyllis Lyon (right, 83) and Del Martin (left, 87) married in San Francisco in 2008, just a few months before voters approved Proposition 8.

DAILY AGENDA:
Prop 8 Amicus Briefs Due: Washington, D.C. Today and tomorrow are important days for marriage equality at the Supreme Court. Today is the deadline for filing Amicus briefs for those who support the challenge to Califoria’s Proposition 8 in the case of Hollingswoth v. Perry. (The deadline for those who want to Supreme Court to uphold Prop 8 was January 29.) We should expect a flurry of Amicus briefs being filed today. One big question is whether President Barack Obama will file a brief. On the one hand, it could be argued that because Prop 8 is a state issue, it’s not something that the administration would necessarily have a say in. But given Obama’s recent evolution on same-sex marriage, LGBT advocates hope that he will take the opportunity to stake a position on the right of gay people to marry, particularly after his stirring “Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall” callout during his second inaugural address.

The Obama administration did file an Amicus brief last week arguing that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act should be declared unconstitutional, saying that DOMA punishes same-sex couples with “a harsh form of discrimination that bears no relation to their ability to contribute to society.” That brief was filed for the case of Windsor v. U.S., which challenges the constitutionality of DOMA Section 3. The deadline for Amicus briefs for Windsor is tomorrow.

Events This Weekend: National Student Pride, Brighton, UK; Belgian Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Brussels, Belgium; Cape Town Pride, Cape Town, South Africa; Telluride Gay Ski Week, Mountain Village, CO; Sydney Mardis Gras, Sydney, NSW.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
State Department Reported Firing 91 Homosexuals Over Previous Two Years: 1950. In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Deputy undersecretary of State John E. Peurifoy said that the State Department had gotten rid of 202 employees over the past two years who were considered “poor security risks.” One person was fired and the rest were allowed to resign. According to Peurifoy, 91 of those let go were separated because they were suspected of being gay.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Karl-Maria Kertbeny: 1824. Born in Vienna, the family moved to Budapest when he was a child. When he was fourteen, a friend killed himself after being blackmailed by an extortionist for his homosexuality. Kertbeny, who had what he called “an instinctive drive to take issue with every injustice,” took up the cause of writing in support of “the rights of man,” against Prussian and German anti-sodomy laws. Kertbeny proposed what would be called “the medical model” of homosexuality: that it was inborn and not the result of mere wickedness. But to talk about homosexual people, he needed a new word: the very word “homosexual” hadn’t been coined yet. Instead, the words “sodomite” and “pederast” were more commonly used in the German speaking world. In a letter he wrote to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrich in 1868, Kertbeny used the word Homosexualität, which for the first time separated of the object of sexual or romantic desire from the gender role of the subject. This eventually allowed for the discussion of what we now know as butch gay men and lipstick lesbians because then, the idea that a gay man could be masculine was nearly impossible to imagine. The word later appeared in pamphlets and other writings, and made its English-language debut at around 1894 (see May 6), when Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Kertbeny insisted that he was not among the homosexuals he defended, but when he died in Budapest in 1882 at the age of 58, he was still unmarried.

Pedro Zamora: 1972 (Feb 29). When MTV debuted The Real World in 1992, it quite literally invented so-called reality television — so-called because it’s hard to see how putting eight attractive young people in a hip loft-like apartment with television crews, hidden cameras, and make-work jobs could be considered “reality.” But in 1994, things really did start getting real when Pedro Zamora, the Cuban-American gay man revealed that he was HIV positive to his housemates by showing them his scrapbook of his four years as an AIDS educator and advocate. In fact, it was this vocation which inspired him to audition for The Real World’s third season. As the season progressed, housemates (and viewers) became more aware of the myths surrounding HIV and AIDS, attended some of Pedro’s AIDS education lectures, celebrated with him as he and his partner exchanged vows during a commitment ceremony, and watched as he dealt with his own deteriorating health as the season progressed.

Taping ended in June 19, 1994 and the first episodes aired a week later. As the season aired, Pedro’s declining health prevented him from participating in any publicity appearances. In August, he checked into St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York. There he was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, one of the many opportunistic infections that many people with AIDS suffered, which causes fatigue, headaches and confusion. After three weeks, he was flown home to Miami to be with his family. He died on November 11, 1994, a day after the final episode of The Real World aired. President Bill Clinton praised Pedro, saying that because of his example, “no one in America can say they’ve never known someone who is living with AIDS.”

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?

Regan DuCasse

February 28th, 2013

That was one season of Real World I was riveted to.
And it broke my heart to hear of that beautiful boy’s passing. He did so much in his short life.
You did really want to travel with him and what he was doing. He was exceptional of all those cast members.
May he rest in peace.

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