The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, May 13
May 13th, 2014
Virginia Marriage Challenge Goes to the Fourth Circuit: Richmond, VA. In February, a federal judge ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional in one of two lawsuits filed in Virginia seeking marriage equality for sam-sex couples. The couples in that first case, Bostic v. Schaefer (previously Bostic v. Rainey), were represented by Ted Olson and David Boies, of Prop 8 fame. A second case brought by the ACLU and Lambda Legal, Harris v. Rainey, has been put on hold while the first case goes before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear oral arguments today. While the court will hear the Bostic v. Schaefer case, it has granted the ACLU’s and Lambda Legal’s request to join in oral arguments with Olson and Boies, over the California pair’s objections. Oral arguments are scheduled to begin at 9:30 E.D.T.
Arkansas Supremes To Consider Marriage Stay Request: Little Rock, AK. Nearly three hundred same-sex couples have managed to get marriage licenses in five Arkansas counties by the close of business yesterday, with more expected to line up today. Those marriages have been taking place in Carroll County (Eureka Springs), Marion County (Yellville), Pulaski County (Little Rock), Saline County (Benton), and Washington County (Fayetteville). Later yesterday, Carroll County stopped issuing licenses after the local prosecutor issued a statement saying, “there was a law left on the books prohibiting a county clerk from issuing a marriage license to persons of the same gender. This law was not addressed by Judge Piazza, and because of this, we advised the county clerk to stop selling marriage licenses to persons of the same gender.”
Meanwhile, lawyers for the state Attorney General’s office requested yesterday that the state Supreme Court issue a stay against Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Piazza’s late Friday ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court set a deadline of noon today C.D.T. for the plaintiffs to respond. The Arkansas Times says, “It is unclear how quickly the Supreme Court will rule. It normally issues opinions on Thursdays, but in extraordinary cases sometimes issues them immediately.”
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TODAY IN HISTORY:
“Cambio de Sexo” Premieres: 1977. Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s death in 1975 brought a new permissiveness in Spanish film-making, and Catalonia-born director Vicente Aranda probed the limits in what was acceptable in a still-conservative society. Cambio de Sexo (“Change of Sex”), which debuted on May 13, 1977 to critical acclaim, starred Victoria Abril as José Maria, a shy, introverted teenager living in the outskirts of Barcelona. Bullied and harassed by his schoolmates, José is expelled from his school. His father tries everything to “cure” him of his effeminate mannerisms, including, in a pivotal scene, taking him to a strip club in Barcelona. But unbeknownst to his father, one of the acts in the strip club is a pre-operative transgender. The father, clueless to the situation and determined to see his son lose his virginity, insists that José goes home with the stripper. Let’s just say the entire experience is revelatory as José understands that he was actually meant to be a girl. But the movie is more than just a story of the teen’s metamorphosis into a young woman. The transgender theme served as a reflection of the larger social changes which were just beginning to overtake Spain.
Bea Arthur: 1922-2009. After serving thirty months in the Marine Corps as one of the first members of the Women’s Reserve. Her enlistment officer wrote that she was “officious — but probably a good worker — if she had her own way!” That would have described just about every one of the characters she would portray on television. After working on and off Broadway, she landed the breakout part as Maude Findlay on Norman Lear’s groundbreaking sit-com All in the Family. The Maude character was Edith Bunker’s cousin who was the polar opposite of bigoted Archie Bunker. That 1971 episode led to her own spin-off in 1972, Maude. As the theme-song said, she was “uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilizing.” The series tackled women’s liberation, menopause, drug and alcohol addiction, and spousal abuse. In one memorable two-part episode which aired two months before Roe v Wade, Maude decided to terminate a late-life pregnancy with an abortion. Maude ended in 1978.
After a few other roles in television and the movies, she landed the role of Dorothy Zbornak in the hit series Golden Girls. Between Maude and Golden Girls, Arthur became an LGBT icon. The Advocate in 1999 asked her why she thought that was. “You play strong, honest people,” she said, “and gays buy it because it’s real and it’s slightly anti-establishment.” She was certainly real. Also she was on Broadway in Mame, so there’s that, too. Arthur died in 2009, after a battle with cancer. Three days later, the lights of Broadway dimmed for one minute in her honor.
Armistead Maupin: 1944. He was born in Washington, D.C. but grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. He began working as a newspaper reported in Charleston, S.C. before he moved to San Francisco in 1971 to work for the Associated Press, In 1976, he released the first installment of his Tales of the City serials, first in a now-defunct Marin County newspaper and later in the San Francisco Chronicle. Those columns were re-worked into a series of books in 1978. In 2007, Maupin married his husband Christopher Turner in Vancouver. During a trip to Australia in 2011, Maupin and his husband were denied the use of a restroom at a saloon in Alice Springs where they were having lunch. The bartender told them to go across the street because their rest room was reserved for “real men.” “So we did what real men do and crossed the street to the visitor’s center where we filed a complaint,” Maupin wrote. “Impressively we received an e-mail apology from the bartender that afternoon. Fair dinkum, mate. Next time don’t [expletive] with the poofters.”
Alan Ball: 1957. Screenwriter, director, actor and producer Alan Ball was born in Atlanta George and graduated from Florida State University with a degree in theater arts. He has written two films, American Beauty (for which he won an Oscar for best original screenplay) and Towelhead. He is more familiar to television audiences for his role as creator, writer and producer of the HBO drama series Six Feet Under (for which he won an Emmy in 2002) and True Blood, a series that has been seen as a paper-thin allegory for the LGBT community. Ball has called the comparison “kind of lazy”, adding “I just hope people can remember that, because it’s a show about vampires, it’s not meant to be taken that seriously. It’s supposed to be fun.”
Ball not only has to contend with critics, but in 2011 he and his partner, actor Peter Macdissi, got tangled in a legal tussle with their neighbor, Quentin Tarantino, who filed a lawsuit claiming that the pair’s collection of exotic birds constantly emit “blood-curdling” and “pterodactyl-like screams” each day which have disrupted Tarantino’s work as a writer. That lawsuit between neighbors was quietly buried six feet under.
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