The Daily Agenda for Saturday, May 10

Jim Burroway

May 10th, 2014

A Rush to the Clerk’s Office?: Arkansas. Maybe. Pulaski County (Little Rock, AK) Circuit Court Judge Christopher Piazza ruled yesterday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. The state Attorney General’s office has filed a request to stay the ruling pending an appeal to the state Supreme Court. But until that stay is granted, same-sex marriage is perfectly legal, even though most of the state’s county clerk offices will  remain closed until Monday. There is one exception though: the Carroll County Clerk’s Office, located in the tiny gay enclave of Eureka Springs in the northwest corner of the state, will be open today from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. There are no blood tests, and no waiting periods And with Eureka Springs being just a short drive from Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas, there’s no residency requirements.

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Darwin, NT; Kraków, Poland; New Hope, PA; São Paulo, Brazil; Tallahassee, FL.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Buffalo, NY; Des Moines, IA.

Other Events This Weekend: Purple Party, Dallas, TX; BeachBear Weekend, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Houston Splash, Houston, TX; Big Horn Rodeo, Las Vegas, NV; Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Miami, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, April 1973, page 17.

Rodney Scheel was only 21 when he opened his first gay bar in Madison, Wisconsin in December 1972, which went through “its share of experimental phases- bar, restaurant, piano bar, dance club, and home-away-from-home for many of the newly-liberated Gay men and Lesbians and their friends of that era.” The Back Door, located just across the railroad tracks from the University of Wisconsin, remained in business until 1979. Scheel would go on to found a number of gay bars in Madison, including the popular leather/levi bar Rod’s at the Hotel Washington. The area where the Back Door once stood has been redeveloped into student housing.

Book Burning in Berlin: 1933. After raiding the Institute for Sexual Research and looted its vast library and archives (see May 6), the Nazi-affiliated German Student Association (Deutsche Studentenschaft) proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit”, which culminated in the “cleansing” (“Säuberung”) by fire on May 10, 1933 of an estimated 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books. Book burnings took place throughout Germany, and the bulk of the books burned in Berlin came from the ISR. About 40,000 people watched in the Opernplatz as propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels declared “No to decadence and moral corruption!” LGBT advocacy, which had developed as a strong scientific and social institution in Germany over the past several decades, was shut down virtually overnight.

Max Lorenz: 1901-1975. The Düsseldorf native’s powerful performances as a heroic tenor (heldentenor, in German) in Wagner’s operas is probably what saved his life in Nazi Germany — or at the very least, the life of his Jewish wife, whom he married in 1932 despite his homosexuality. The very next year, he established his dominance at the Bayreuth Festival, the annual Wagner festival began by Richard Wagner himself, just as the Nazis came to power. Later, when Lorenz was caught “in flagrante” with a young man at Bayreuth, Hitler forbade his future performances at the prestigious festival. Winifred Wagner, the festival’s director, answered that she would would close the festival because without Lorenz, “Bayreuth can’t be done.” Such was Hitler’s love for Wagner’s operas that he backed down and let Lorenz perform. In 1943, when the SS stormed Lorenz’s home while he was away to take his wife and mother-in-law off to the concentration camps, Hermann Göring personally intervened and placed the entire family under his personal protection.

Lorenz’s career lasted almost three decades. He was particularly renowned for his performances as Siegfried (in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung), Tristan (in Tristan und Isolde) and as Walther (in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) After the war, Lorenz became an Austrian citizen, but his reputation was sullied by the assumption that he had been a Nazi. He died in Salzburg in 1975.

Steve Gunderson: 1951. The first openly gay Republican to serve in Congress, the Wisconsin representative was outed on the floor of the House of Representatives by a fellow Republican, the virulently anti-gay Rep. Bob Dornan of California. The confrontation occurred during a debate on a measure that would have prohibited any school which received federal funding from “promoting homosexuality as a positive lifestyle.” Gunderson objected to some of the defects in how the measure was written, saying it “has the effect of prohibiting school counseling and guidance. It has the effect of prohibiting AIDS education.”

Dornan rose to object, saying that Gunderson has “a revolving door on his closet. He’s on, he’s out, he’s in, he’s out, he’s in. I guess you’re out because you went up and spoke to a huge homosexual dinner, Mr. Gunderson.” Dornan later complained to reporters, “We have a rep on our side who is a homo who goes in and out of the closet. I have just had it with him saying he takes second place to no one in this House … (in) upholding Christian principles.”

That “homosexual dinner” was the annual Human Rights Campaign Fund dinner in Baltimore two weeks earlier, where Gunderson told the gathering about the beach house in Rehoboth that he shared with “Rob” and “our two dogs.” Gunderson also talked about how he and Rob had been touched by the AIDS crisis in the past year. “Two of our closest friends died from AIDS, and while for Rob and I this was the first personal loss from this tragic disease, it makes its impact no less painful to each of us. He also urged gays and lesbians to come out of the closet, saying that “unless a son or brother is gay, a daughter or sister is lesbian, most families will not encounter challenges to their traditional values.”

Despite Gunderson’s urging that more gays and lesbians come out of the closet, Gunderson refused to confirm or deny his sexuality to reporters in the immediate aftermath of Dornan’s outburst, saying that he wouldn’t dignify Dornan’s comments with a response. But in 1994, refusing to deny it was all that was really needed. Rep. Barny Frank (D-MA) sympathized somewhat: “This is not an easy situation he finds himself in. In a perfect world none of this would be necessary.”

Gunderson won re-election later that year, and he became the lone Republican to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act two years later. He chose not to seek re-election in 1996. In January 2010, Gunderson was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Commission on White House Fellows. He is currently the President and CEO of the Council on Foundations, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit membership association of approximately 2,000 grantmaking foundations and corporations.

Michele Van Gorp: 1977. Born in Warren, Michigan, Michele Van Gorp played women’s collegiate basketball at Purdue University for her freshman and sophomore years, then transferred to Duke University, where she led Duke to the school’s first NCAA final for women’s basketball. She was drafted into the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in 1999. After playing for a year with the Portland Fire, she was traded to the Minnesota Lynx, where she gained a reputation as one of the league’s toughest defenders.

Van Gorp was the only open lesbian in the WNBA from 2002 (when Sue Wicks retired) until 2005, when Sheryl Swoopes and Latasha Byears came out. She missed much of the 2004 season due to a stress fracture in her left foot, and she ended up retiring from the WNBA in 2005. She is currently back at her alma mater, working with the Duke women’s basketball program.

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?


May 10th, 2014

Wow, Jim, thank you for “Wisconsin Day” at BTB!

When I moved to Madison in 1974 the BD was the place I went to the first evening I got to town.

And Steve Gunderson!? Wow, this all brings back some good memories and wistful nostalgia.

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