The Daily Agenda for Friday, July 29

From Lesbian Tide, September 1977, page 39.

From Lesbian Tide, September 1977, page 39.

Speaking of political conventions, Lesbian Tide reported the results of the Social Workers party convention in 1980:

SWP COMES OUT AGAINST GAYS

At its 30th national convention, Socialist Workers Party (SWP) members decided to end its support of and intervention into the lesbian and gay rights movement. In the early 70s, the SWP had dropped their policy of excluding open lesbians and gay men from membership. In this latest move, however, SWP flatly stated that “coming out (especially on the job) is not political, but purely personal, and even has dangers of leading into “peti-bourgeois utopian lifestylism”!

— From Lesbian Tide, May 1980, page 22.

Stonewall was still eleven years away. The first Christopher Street Liberation Day march would be a year after that. And it would be two years after that when Jeanne Manford marched with her son during that year’s Pride parade with a sign reading “Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.” In 1958, the idea of publicly-proclaimed pride was impossible to imagine. Simple visibility was still the single greatest hurdle for gay people, thanks to the very real dangers it brought: police raids (Aug 14), arrest (Jun 23), loss of employment (Mar 22, Dec 20), commitment to a psychiatric hospital (Apr 14, Jul 26), murder (Aug 3, Jan 5). There were few visible examples of gay people, and almost no visible examples of family members who accepted and supported their gay relatives.

Actually, there were few visible examples of gay people accepting themselves. But more often than not, they saw themselves as freaks, perverts, deviants, delinquents, degenerates, sick — not just because society said so, but also because the “experts” said so, from all the respected professional organizations, prestigious universities and the most trusted hospitals. When Frank Kameny dared to challenge psychatry’s verdict that gay people were mentally ill in 1965 (May 11), the push-back was furious within the gay community. The reaction could be summed up this way: who died and made you an expert on homosexuality? What credentials do you have to challenge those who have spent an entire lifetime studying the “problem.” Kameny’s answer was simple: “We are the true authorities on homosexuality, whether we are accepted as such or not.”

Getting gays and lesbians to accept themselves was still the biggest challenge facing the homophile organizations, and an essay written by a mother of a lesbian in the July 1958 issue of The Ladder, the official newsletter of the Daughers of Bilitis, shows just what a challenge that was. She spent her essay countering a lot of misinformation that a lot of people — including a lot of gay people –shared. To counter the assumption that her daughter would live a life of lonely spinsterhood, she described her daugheter’s “congenial, intelligent, loving and kind ‘mate’.” Against the prevailing view that mothers were responsible for their child’s sexuality, she defended herself by pointing to her daughter’s morality (“she could not be cheap and promiscuous”) and her good citizenship. And to counter society’s assumptions that a faithful heterosexual marriage was every woman’s birthright, she offered the example of her own sad marriage.

In all, this isn’t so much a portrait of a mother and her lesbian daughter, but a counter-narrative to the prevailing opinions of gay people at that time. The essay’s defensiveness isn’t what we would recognize as a proclamation of pride today, but when you consider how oppresive the dominant assumptions were at that time, Mrs. Doris Lyles had to start somewhere.

My daughter is a Lesbian. By all measures of accepted society, that is a pretty blunt statement. If I were an average mother, I wouldn’t even bring this assertion out and view it furtively, even when alone. Nevertheless, I do not think I would come under what one would call average, and I say this in a far from self-satisfied manner. However, I do not believe in hiding truth under our stilted, self-imposed laws of society. Many people today are frustrated and under mental treatment because of these frustrations, simply because they refuse to face the truth and prefer to delude themselves in so many ways.

My daughter from small girlhood seemed to be a little different from the average child. For one thing, she was above average mentally and had very strong will power and determination that even in childhood seemed to brook no interference. Frankly, I believe that if I had been a dictatorial, demanding mother whose child had to bend to her ego and demands, I might have had a pretty serious case of delinquency to contend with today, instead of an intelligent, serious-minded daughter who holds a fine position in a respected professional field, lives what is for her a full, rounded-out life of contentment and security, with no frustrations or problems, at least none that amount to much.

I will be very frank in saying that I am lucky in that she found a congenial, intelligent, loving and kind “mate” in this association of which I am aware but do not understand completely as a normal mother and wife. I do not like that word “normal” applied here, for there are no two more normal persons alive than my daughter and her charming associate.

In finding out about my daughter’s preferences, I had one very firm belief. I knew she would find someone of kindred tastes and lead a very circumspect life no matter what path she chose, for I knew my child and understood she could not be cheap and promiscuous, whether Lesbian or heterosexual. This thought was a great comfort and from the beginning I knew she would need love, appreciation and understanding from me; not censure, shame or withdrawal. One thing I have done to an extent most people would feel was too much to the extreme: I have left her to her own devices and now, in her middle twenties, she leads her own life completely and when she wishes to come to me, for whatever period of time she chooses, she knows she is welcome and won’t be importuned to “come oftener” and “stay longer”. As a child, I led a sheltered life in which my mother dominated all my moves and actions. When she passed away, I was at completely loose ends and made a very foolish marriage which would not have happened had I been free to follow my owm course in life. This had made me wary of being possessive and trying to shape and run the lives of others. As a consequence, I think I have my daughter’s love and loyalty — even to a greater degree than most mothers who make demands and expect them to be carried out.

With the background of theatrical people during my childhood, I learned rather early that all of us, men or women, did not come within the realm of “norms.” Maybe this is why my daughter’s fate didn’t seem so terrible to me. I could think of a great many worse things, such as the unhappy twenty years of marriage I had shed at the time I learned of my daughter’s “difference”. I spent those years with a man who was a congenital liar, who preferred a lie when the truth would have served him better, and who couldn’t leave town for a week’s trip as a Salesman who travelled without having his quota of affairs with anyone — waitresses, nurses, — he seemed to prefer uniforms. It was a question of keeping my marriage together by not digging too deeply in the barrel, and keeping my temper, but definitely losing my self-respect. This I believe is a fate far worse for a girl. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe I should use every means within my power to help my daughter in her situation, but frankly I do not believe she needs help from me or anyone else. If ever the time should come when she feels the need for advice or counsel, I only hope I will be able to advise her wisely, but certainly not against what she believes with all her being to be her path in life.

We preach freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even though reams and reams have been written on the subject, there are very few who will admit belief in freedom of love.

[Source: Mrs. Doris Lyles. “My Daughter Is a Lesbian.” The Ladder 2, no. 10 (July 1958):4-5.]

His role on Project Runway is that of a fashion professor and mentor, in line with his previous life as a member of the faculty at Parson The New School for Design, where he served as the fashion design chair before moving to Liz Claiborne in 2007 to work as their chief creative officer. Meanwhile, he’s been “making it work” at the Lifetime reality series which just started its thirtheenth season last week. He is an animal rights advocate and speaks out against the use of fur in fashion. He also made an “It Gets Better” video, motivated by his own suicide attempt when he was seventeen. He’s  been a rather private person, not given to opening his life to public scrutiny. But that began to change in 2006 when, in an interview with Instinct, Gunn said that he hadn’t been in a relationship since the early 1980s, after the end of a six-year relationship with the love of his life, whom he still loves today. He’s been celibate ever since then. In 2012, he wrote a short essay, Shaken, Not Stirred (available only as a Kindle Single) in which he described growing up with a rigid, controlling FBI-agent father who was J. Edgar Hoover’s ghostwriter.

Because Fox News Cut Away From Khizr Khan

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

Because of course they did.

Federal Appeals Court Reluctantly Rejects Expanding Existing Civil Rights Law To Cover Sexual Orientation

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has reluctantly upheld a lower court ruling which held that sex discrimination protections found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 cannot be extended to include sexual orientation.

The case was filed by Kimberly Hively, a former teacher at Ivy Tech Community College in South Bend, Indiana, who filed a grievance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charging that she had been blocked from full time employment because of her sexual orientation. When she exhausted her appeals with the EEOC, she filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court. The college countered that Title VII doesn’t apply to sexual orientation claims, and the court agreed.

The Appeals Court decision, written by Judge Ilana Rovner and joined by Judge William Bauer, shows that the court didn’t like issuing the decision that it did (PDF: 347KB/42 pages). “This panel could make short shrift of its task and affirm the district court opinion by referencing two cases (released two months apart), in which this court held that Title VII offers no protection from nor remedies for sexual orientation discrimination,” wrote Rovner. However, she wrote that the court was not only bound by those two previous decisions, but many others as well. “Our precedent has been unequivocal in holding that Title VII does not redress sexual orientation discrimination. That holding is in line with all other circuit courts to have decided or opined about the matter.”

That was page six. The remainder of the 42-page document continued to defend the ruling against “a paradoxical legal landscape in which a person can be married on Saturday and then fired on Monday for just that act”:

For although federal law now guarantees anyone the right to marry another person of the same gender, Title VII, to the extent it does not reach sexual orientation discrimination, also allows employers to fire that employee for doing so. From an employee’s perspective, the right to marriage might not feel like a real right if she can be fired for exercising it. Many citizens would be surprised to learn that under federal law any private employer can summon an employee into his office and state, “You are a hard‐working employee and have added much value to my company, but I am firing you because you are gay.” And the employee would have no recourse whatsoever — unless she happens to live in a state or locality with an anti‐discrimination statute that includes sexual orientation. More than half of the United States, however, do not have such state protections. …Moreover, the truth of this scenario would also apply to perceived sexual orientation. And so, for example, an employer who merely has a hunch that an employee is gay can terminate that employee for being gay whether or not she actually is. And even if the employer is wrong about the sexual orientation of the non‐gay employee, the employee has no recourse under Title VII as the discharge still would be based on sexual orientation.

…As things stand now, however, our understanding of Title VII leaves us with a somewhat odd body of case law that protects a lesbian who faces discrimination because she fails to meet some superficial gender norms — wearing pants instead of dresses, having short hair, not wearing make up — but not a lesbian who meets cosmetic gender norms, but violates the most essential of gender stereotypes by marrying another woman. We are left with a body of law that values the wearing of pants and earrings over marriage. It seems likely that neither the proponents nor the opponents of protecting employees from sexual orientation discrimination would be satisfied with a body of case law that protects “flamboyant” gay men and “butch” lesbians but not the lesbian or gay employee who act and appear straight. This type of gerrymandering to exclude some forms of gender‐norm discrimination but not others leads to unsatisfying results.

Despite the policy paradox set up by current law, Rovner held that the law, coupled with a large body of previous court decisions, is the law. It also noted that “Congress has time and time again said ‘no,’ to every attempt to add sexual orientation to the list of categories protected from discrimination by Title VII.” Rovner concluded:

Perhaps the writing is on the wall. It seems unlikely that our society can continue to condone a legal structure in which employees can be fired, harassed, demeaned, singled out for undesirable tasks, paid lower wages, demoted, passed over for promotions, and otherwise discriminated against solely based on who they date, love, or marry. The agency tasked with enforcing Title VII does not condone it, (see Baldwin, 2015 WL 4397641 at **5,10); many of the federal courts to consider the matter have stated that they do not condone it (see, e.g., Vickers, 453 F.3d at 764‐65; Bibby, 260 F.3d at 265; Simonton, 232 F.3d at 35; Higgins, 194 F.3d at 259; Rene, 243 F.3d at 1209, (Hug, J., dissenting); Kay, 142 F. Appʹx at 51; Silva, 2000 WL 525573, at *1); and this court undoubtedly does not condone it (see Ulane, 742 F.2d at 1084). But writing on the wall is not enough. Until the writing comes in the form of a Supreme Court opinion or new legislation, we must adhere to the writing of our prior precedent, and therefore, the decision of the district court is AFFIRMED.

Judge Kenneth Ripple also joined the ruling, but not the extended discussion beyond page 9.

Report: Florida Gov. Scott May Support Gay Rights, Post-Pulse

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

Florida Gov. Rick Scott

Florida Gov. Rick Scott

There are no specifics, and this is based on conversations Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott had with state Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami/Miami Beach), the state’s only openly gay lawmaker.

“We didn’t talk about specific laws, but what he said to me privately and in the presence of his staff is that he’s a grandfather and if any of his grandchildren happened to be gay he would want them to be treated with dignity and respect and have their rights,” state Rep. David Richardson said after a panel discussion on Wednesday. “And he also told me that for anyone that might be critical of him and having these meetings, that he got elected to represent all 20 million Floridians.”

…Richardson said the meetings with Scott offered some leverage that he would use depending on what bills reach the governor’s desk.

“I will happily call him up and remind him what he told me in Orlando,” said Richardson, who told the audience he was sharing the story as an example of “relationship-building.”

Scott had been heavily criticized for refusing to describe the Pulse gay night club massacre victims as members of the LGBT community. Richardson texted Scott’s chief of staff to complain about the omission.

“He didn’t say anything about the gay community, the LGBT community. I texted her and I said, ‘Would you tell him that he has to say the word gay?’ ” Richardson said. “He has to say the word ‘gay’ because the gay community is taking note that he’s not acknowledging the community.”

Scott didn’t acknowledge the victims until June 14, two days after the attack. Scott called Richardson to seek help in reaching out to the LGBT community. Richardson agreed to help, but only on Richardson’s terms: “I’m willing to help you but only if you can do this on my terms, and my terms are no press and no photo opportunities. I didn’t want to be used to facilitate him after he has not been responsive to our community.”

Sarah McBride Becomes First Transgender Person To Address a National Convention

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

Chad Griffin To DNC: “Donald Trump Strutted Before the Cameras and Exploited Our National Tragedy”

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

The HRC came out early with its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President in January.

Orlando Victim’s Mother Addresses DNC

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

This happened yesterday. I meant to get around to posting it but I got wrapped up in other things. I’ve been told that Fox News cut away when Christine Leinonen took to the podium, so if you’re a Fox News watcher, you missed this. And if you missed my memorial to Chrisopher and his partner, Juan Ramón Guerrero, I’ve reposted it below.

Read the rest of this entry »

The USNS Harvey Milk Will Join the Navy Fleet

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

Ensign Harvey Milk

Ensign Harvey Milk

USNI News, from the U.S. Naval Institute, is reporting that the U.S. Navy is set to name a ship after gay rights activist Harvey Milk:

The July 14, 2016 notification, signed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, indicated he intended to name a planned Military Sealift Command fleet oiler USNS Harvey Milk (T-AO-206). The ship would be the second of the John Lewis-class oilers being built by General Dynamics NASSCO in San Diego, Calif.

…The Secretary of the Navy’s office is deferring additional information until the naming announcement, a Navy official told USNI News on Thursday.

Mabus has said the John Lewis-class – named after civil rights activist and congressman Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) – would be named after civil rights leaders.

Other names in the class include former Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren whose court ruled to desegregate U.S. schools, former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, women’s right activist Lucy Stone and abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth.

Mabus has also named ships in the past for other civil rights icons, including the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ships USNS Medgar Evers (T-AKE-13) and USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14).

Milk entered the Navy in 1951 and served on the submarine rescue ship Kittiwake, which was based in San Diego. He was honorably discharged in 1955 as a lieutenant junior grade. Both of his parents had also served in the Navy. Huffington Post reports that Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) organized a letter writing campaign to push for naming a ship after Milk:

“This action would be a fitting tribute to Mr. Milk’s support for equality, an ideal exemplified in the military’s recent repeal of its former Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy,” said Filner in a statement. The southern California legislator is the Democrats’ ranking member on the House Veterans Affairs Committee and is also in the process of running for mayor of San Diego.

…“This action by the US Secretary of the Navy will further send a green light to all the brave men and women who serve our nation that honesty, acceptance and authenticity are held up among the highest ideals of our military,” said Milk’s nephew Stuart Milk in a statement to San Diego LGBT Weekly.

Twelve States File Brief Supporting Transgender Coverage Under Civil Rights Laws

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

Notes: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect.

Notes: In states other than Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee, local jurisdictions may provide additional anti-discrimination protections beyond those provided by state law. On June 30, a federal judge issued an injunction preventing Mississippi’s so-called “religious freedom” law from going into effect. (Click to enlarge.)

Twelve states, led by Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, have filed a brief in federal court supporting the Obama Administration’s policies to include non-discrimination protections for transgender students and employees under current civil rights laws which prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender. The brief was filed in the Northern District of Texas, where Texas is the lead plaintiff on behalf of thirteen states in a lawsuit seeking to block the Obama Administration’s policies.

According to Dominic Holden at Buzzfeed:

“The bottom line is that the federal guidance at issue here threatens no imminent harm,” reads a draft of the brief provided to BuzzFeed News.

The filing is led by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose brief adds that federal protections for transgender people are “strongly in the public interest.”

Ferguson elaborated on getting involved in the litigation in an interview with BuzzFeed News, explaining, “I think this case could go all the way to the Supreme Court, and I want to make sure the trial court has our perspective and the perspective of like-minded states.”

I haven’t seen a copy of the brief. Buzzfeed reports that the brief argues, “Contrary to Plaintiffs’ claims, our shared experience demonstrates that protecting the civil rights of our transgender friends, relatives, classmates, and colleagues creates no public safety threat and imposes no meaningful financial burden.”

States joining Washington’s brief are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, as well as Washington, DC. All but New Hampshire and New York cover gender identity in addition to sexual orientation under their non-discrimination laws. New York has recently extended gender identity protections under regulations implemented by the state’s Division of Human Rights, which enforces the state’s non-discrimination laws.

(Click to enlarge.)

(Click to enlarge.)

Twelve other states have joined Texas in its federal lawsuit, and nine others have joined a a similar lawsuit being led by Nebraska. Two lawsuits in North Carolina seek to enjoin the Obama Administration from implementing its transgender protection policies.

Two others lawsuits have been lodged against North Carolina over HB2, which prohibits municipalities from enacting local non-discrimination ordinances based on either sexual orientation or gender identity, and which requires transgender people to use the rest room based on the gender listed on their birth certificates.

On Tuesdsay, Federal District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder set a November 14 trial date to consider whether the four North Carolina lawsuits should be tried jointly or organized in a different manner. But moments ago, the ACLU, which joined with Lambda Legal to represent plaintiffs in one of those lawsuits challenging HB2 has sent out a press release saying that Judge Schroeder will hear arguments on Monday, August 1, on a motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its anti-transgender provisions.

By The Way…

Jim Burroway

July 28th, 2016

Those obnoxious, petulant “Bernie Bros” have seriously made me re-think my loathing of Hillary Clinton. Just FYI.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, July 28

From Michael's Thing (New York, NY), February 2, 1976, page 50.

From Michael’s Thing (New York, NY), February 2, 1976, page 50.

Harry’s Back East was a longtime gay bar whose origins went back to at least 1968. In 1971, the weekly newsmagazine GAY called it “the busiest bar in New York any night.” It probably owed its popularity to its reputation as a simple, laid-back and friendly establishment. At least one story has it that Judy Garland paid a visit there in 1969 shortly before she died. The front bar area was a narrow space, with a very long bar in front that ran the length of the front room and just about every item imaginable hanging from its ceiling — toys, dolls, musical instruments, you name it. The dance floor was in the back, adorned with a disco ball and a large red light connected to a light switch at the front bar that the bartender could flip whenever the cops came in. When the red light came on, that was everyone’s signal to stop dancing together and act innocent — whatever that meant — lest the cops start arresting them for “lewd” conduct. If the owners were current on their bribes, then the cops would leave, the red light would go out, and everyone would go back to doing whatever they were doing before they were so rudely interrupted. But if the bribes had gone unpaid, the cops would stay and become a general nuisance, making everyone uncomfortable until either all the patrons left or the owner arrived and paid up. Harry’s survived that era and soldiered on until 1982 when it finally closed. The location in 2011 held a restaurant that later closed. Now it’s a retail store that sells fancy frozen foods that Manhattanites can re-heat in their gourmet kitchens.

In 1955, the Illinois General Assembly inaugurated the gargantuan task of overhauling its criminal code. Since its last major revision in 1874, the code had accumulated a patchwork of conflicting and confusing statues, some of which made no sense in the 20th century. Horse thieves, for example, were punished with a minimum penalty of three years in prison, but the maximum penalty for auto theft was only one year.

Over the ensuing six years, an eighteen-member joint committee of the Chicago and Illinois Bar Associations combed through the 148 chapters and 832 sections of the old statute books, using the American Law Institute’s 1956 Model Penal Code as a guide. The ALI had put together its Model Penal Code because a number of states were planning to revise their criminal codes over the next decade, and the 1956 Model Code was intended to guide them through the process. Among its many recommendations included the elimination of all prohibitions against consensual sexual activity between consenting adults, including those laws which criminalized homosexual activity and relationships. Because the Model Penal Code also touched on a plethora of other criminal statues, it’s likely that most Illinois lawmakers didn’t realize that they were repealing their anti-sodomy law by adopting the omnibus legislation. Nevertheless, the code was adopted and signed into law by Gov. Otto Kerner, and the anti-sodomy law’s repeal became effective on January 1, 1962.

That didn’t mean however that eliminating the state’s anti-sodomy law was entirely by mistake. A booklet describing the new code prepared for Chicago Police by Claude R. Sowele, assistant professor at Northwestern University’s law school, commented, “The Law should not be cluttered with matters of morality so long as they do not endanger the community. Morality should be left to the church, community and the individual’s own conscience.” While Illinois became the first state to legalize consensual adult same-sex relationships, the change in the state’s criminal code had few practical benefits for the state’s LGBT population, as police raids and harassment on other pretexts (or no pretext even, other than the opportunity to milk the gay community of more bribes) would continue without letup for another two decades.

Chart

For the next ten years, Illinois would remain the only state in the union to legalize consensual adult same-sex relationships. In 1971, Connecticut finally rescinded its sodomy law, followed by Colorado and Oregon (1972), Hawaii and North Dakota (1973), Ohio (1974), New Hampshire and New Mexico (1975). The big year was 1976, when California, Indiana, Maine, Washington and West Virginia stopped criminalizing homosexuality. By the time Lawrence v. Texas struck down all sodomy laws nationwide in 2003, thirty-six states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had eliminated their anti-gay statutes, either by legislative action or by state court decisions. Progress towards equality in the U.S. has only accelerated since then. It took forty-two years to get rid of all of the sodomy laws across America. But it only took us eleven years from the time Massachusetts instituted marriage equality in 2004 (May 17) until all Americans gained the right to marry the person they love in 2015 (Jun 26).

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