Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in DOMA Case: Washington, D.C. As I said yesterday, this is the month when history will be made. In part two of that history, U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments today in the case of Windsor v U.S., which challenges the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. Section 3 is the portion of the federal law which bars the U.S. government from recognizing same-sex marriage performed by the states. This case was brought by Edith Windsor, the widow of Thea Spyer, who is being forced to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes because the government is barred from recognizing their marriage. The couple had been together since 1965, and they were finally able to wed in Toronto in 2007, two years before Thea’s death.
A Federal District Judge ruled in Windsor’s favor and struck down DOMA’s Section 3 as unconstitutional, and the case was on its way to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals when Windsor’s attorneys, citing her age and poor health (she’s 83), asked the Supreme Court to take the case directly. (The Second Circuit ended up upholding the lower court’s ruling.) Oral arguments for Windsor v. U.S. will begin this morning at 10:00 a.m. and they are scheduled to last about two hours. Part of the reason for the extended time for oral arguments rests with the Justice Department’s determination that they could not defend the law’s constitutionality based on the facts and the heightened scrutiny that the believe the case requires. The House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), under the direction of House Majority Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), then annouced that they would take up the statute’s defense, and so part of the oral arguments this morning will focus on whether BLAG has standing. Audio recordings will bceome available by 2:00 p.m. EDT. You can find the full docket of documents and amici briefs here.
Bob Mizer: 1922. Before there was the internet and its most lucrative offering, online porn, and before the proliferation of dead-tree porn in the late 1960s through the 1980s, there was the “physique” magazines that sprang up after World War II. Bob Mizer was the mild-mannered publisher and photographer for Physique Pictorial, one of many such magazines that published “beefcake” photographs under the guise of bodybuilding and health. His photography studio, the Athletic Model Guild (AMG), specialized in men (gay and straight) doing bodybuilding poses or wrestling in pairs. But that thin guise — almost as thin as the posing pouch that his models wore — wasn’t enough to keep him from being convicted in 1947 of unlawful distribution of obscene materials and serving a nine month sentence at a work camp in Saugus, California.
That setback barely put a dent into Mizer’s career. In addition the Physique Pictorial, Mizer added Young Adonis in 1963 and Grecian Guild Studio Quarterly in 1966. When obscenity laws were relaxed in 1968 allowing full male frontal nudity, Mizer quickly adapted with the times. Through it all, AMG was very much a family affair, with Mizer’s mother (her skills as a seamstress was put to use in creating a line of skimpy briefs and posing pouches) and brother (an accountant) playing important roles in the business. Mizer would photograph thousands of men and take nearly a million different images. He also produced over 3000 film titles from the 1950s to the 1980′s, which mostly consisted of film (and later, videotape) of his photo sessions. He died in 1992, and AMG went dormant for a while. But under new ownership, Mizer’s archives are being catalogued and digitally remastered. Mizer never thought of himself as an artists, but his work has garnered a significant re-appraisal in the past two decades, which influenced artists like Robert Mappelthorpe and David Hockney. The Los Angeles Times wrote in 2004 that “Mizer’s pictures are historically important because they capture a time, place and attitude so vividly that it still seems to be with us. His photographs are inspiring because they were not made to fill a market niche that already existed. Instead, they created the niche and then filled it with aplomb.” In 2009, Taschen Books released the monograph Bob’s World: The Life and Boys of A.M.G.’s Bob Mizer.
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This your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?