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Alaska gets two day stay

Timothy Kincaid

October 15th, 2014

The State of Alaska asked for a stay to its marriage ruling. And by astonishing odds, two of the Ninth Circuit’s most conservative judges, Diarmuid O’Scannlain and Jay Bybee, were on the three judge panel deciding the matter. O’Scannlain and Bybee were two of the three judges who would have given Proposition 8 an en banc hearing.

However, things were different this time around.

Bybee sided with judge Marsha Berzon in denying stay at the Ninth Circuit level and in issuing a temporary two day stay for the state to appeal to the Supreme Court in hopes of getting a more permanent stay.

Which means that marriages will not begin first thing tomorrow in The Last Frontier, but rather at noon on Friday.

North Carolina high school bans play because Teh Ghey

Timothy Kincaid

October 15th, 2014

almost

You’ve never been to Maiden, North Carolina, but your selfies probably have. It’s the home of Apple’s Cloud data center.

It’s also home of some pretty nasty prejudice. (GayStarNews)

The school’s principal, Rob Bliss, has released a statement surrounding the outrage.

He said: ‘In regards to the request for students to perform the play “Almost Maine,” careful review and consideration was given to the contents of this play.

‘The play contained sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.

‘As principal of Maiden High School, I have an obligation to ensure that all material, including drama performances is appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages.’

And, by “appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages”, Bliss means “ain’t got none of Teh Gheys!!”

Almost, Maine is a play containing nine vignettes about love and loss. And yes, stories about love and loss can have “overtones” and “innuendos” that reference sex. Read Shakespeare.

But Almost, Maine is no worse than prime time television and downright tame compared to pretty much any music video. And that isn’t, of course, what got Principal Bliss all in a tither. The play’s real crime is that one of the nine vignettes includes two men who say they love each other.

And while Almost, Maine is sufficiently age appropriate that in 2010, it was “the most-produced play in North American high schools“, it’s just too scandalous for places where attitudes like those of Principal Bliss prevail.

The drama students are hoping that a petition can pressure Principal Bliss into allowing them to perform the play and, consequently, their program to survive.

Ron Hart on marriage

Timothy Kincaid

October 14th, 2014

I seldom read something on Christian Post and do anything but shudder. Today I chuckled:

Neither government nor citizens should waste time and energy trying to keep two loving, consenting, committed people from a public acknowledgment of their union. If we were to have a law against allowing a subset of our country to marry, it should be directed squarely at the Kardashians.

Is a couple of lady gym teachers with three cats and a joint checking account really a threat? Are two guys living in a once-blighted neighborhood that becomes gentrified with fixed-up homes and where, before you know it, bistros and bakeries pop up, a problem? How is that damaging to America? Who else is going to adopt twin Chinese girls? Madonna and Angelina Jolie can’t take them all.

Marriage at the top of the world

Timothy Kincaid

October 14th, 2014

barrow weddingsAlthough Alaska state law requires a three day wait, Magistrate Mary Treiber waived the requirement and allowed two lesbian couples to marry. Which is a pleasant little story.

But perhaps more interesting is where this happened, the town of Barrow.

Barrow is the northernmost city in the United States, lying above the Arctic Circle and just 1,300 south of the North Pole. The population is less than 5,000.

Congratulations, ladies.

(ktuu.com)

Updated marriage map

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2014

marriage 2014

Dark Purple – marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples
Light Purple – states in circuits which have ruled for marriage equality
Pink – recognizes legal marriages conducted elsewhere

It is now possible to drive from Chicago to LA without ever becoming “not married” along the way.

60%

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2014

EqualityChart

With Idaho, North Carolina and Alaska now liberated from anti-gay marriage laws, we have now crossed the 60% mark in the American population living in the thirty states and the District of Columbia with full marriage equality. If we were the Senate, we could break a filibuster.

Vladimir Putin Can See Gay Marriages From His House

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2014

The Land of Sarah Palin is now in the marriage equality column. In a surprise summary judgment — the surprise being that it came out on Sunday afternoon local time after having heard oral arguments Friday afternoon –Federal District Judge Timothy Burgess found (PDF: 206KB/25 pages) ” that Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same sex marriages lawfully entered in other states is unconstitutional as a deprivation of basic due process and equal protection principles under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”

The ruling comes less than a week after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Alaska’s Federal Courts, overturned bans in Idaho and Nevada. The ruling takes effect immediately, and there was no stay issued with it. Nonetheless, Gov. Sean Parnell quickly announced that he would try to appeal the decision.

Alaska has a three day waiting period. While couples should be able to get marriage licenses on Monday, marriages may not take place before Thursday.


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The Daily Agenda for Thursday, October 16

Jim Burroway

October 16th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bakersfield, CA; Nashville, TN (Black Pride); Sarasota, FL; Tucson, AZ; Winston-Salem, NC.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Prescott, AZ; Watertown, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Ft. Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; World Gay Rodeo Finals, Ft. Worth, TX; Kansai Queer Film Festival, Osaka, Japan; Louisville LGBT Film Festival, Louisville, KY; Rainbow Festival, Phoenix, AZ; Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Seattle, WA; Bush Garden Gay Days, Williamsburg, VA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the GLC Voice (Minneapolis, MN), December 1979, page 6.

From the GLC Voice (Minneapolis, MN), December 1979, page 6.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Excessive Masturbation May Cause Your Sex To Change: 1725. The West’s preoccupation with the dangers of masturbation is historically tied with the broader preoccupation with non-procreative sex generally. But masturbation was seen as particularly dangerous because it was believed to be responsible for an individual’s moral, mental and physical collapse. (See Sep 16 for some of the reasons masturbation was believed to be so dangerous.)

In the early 1700s, an unknown London doctor and clergyman wrote an important book which brought all of those beliefs together in one place, and it became, for several future generations, the primary source for information about all of the moral, physical and mental dangers that masturbation posed. Titled, Onania; or, the Heinous SIN of Self-Pollution, and All its Frightful Consequences, in both SEXES, Consider’d. With Spiritual and Physical Advice to Those, who have already injur’d themselves by this abominable Practice. And seasonable Admonition to the Youth of the Nation, (of both SEXES) and those whose Tuition they are under, whether Parents, Guardians, Masters, or Mistresses, the book went through several editions. Each successive printing expanded from the previous with the inclusion of letters from readers and responses from the quack doctor. The added supplemental material had the effect of firehosing any objections which may have arisen in the meantime. The ninth edition, published in 1722, closed with the author’s statement that there would be no further additions made to future printings, but in 1725, he added a letter from a young lady, dated October 16, 1726, in which she describes herself practicing masturbation with herself and another lady friend:

Just as this supplement, was as ’twere printed off, the following letter from a young Lady, was left for me at the booksellers, which, for the particularity of the case, and ingenuity of the writer, I thought I could do no less than make room for.

To the commendable Author of the ONANIA, Oct. 16, 1725,

SIR,

This Letter comes from a young female creature, but an old transgressor of the practice of that filthy pleasure which you have so justly exploded and condemned, in your ingenious book Onania, which I happily met with about 10 days ago: but in all the cases therein enumerated, there is not one that is parallel to mine, which as my welfare requires it, I must be obliged to relate, and is what I question, Sir, whether you have ever once met with: nor could I tell it, though at the same time I bless the opportunity, but that I am sure you no more know the writer of it, nor ever will, than I know the author of Onania, or desire it.

I began, sir, the folly at 11 years of age, was taught it by my mother’s chambermaid, who lay with me from that time all along until now, which is full seven years, and so intimate were we in the sin, that we took the opportunities of committing it, and invented all the ways we were capable of to heighten the titillation, and gratify our sinful lusts the more. We, in short, pleasured one another, as well as ourselves, but whether by the hard usage of my parts by her, or myself, or both, or whether from any thing in nature more in my make, than is customary to the sex, I don’t know, but for above half a year past I have had a swelling that thrusts out from my body [here, she describes her clitoris -- JB], as big, and almost as hard, and as long or longer than my thumb, which inclines me to excessive lustful desires, and from it there issues a moisture or slipperiness to that degree that I am almost continually wet, and sometimes have such a forcing, as if something of a large substance was coming from me, which greatly frightens both me and my maid. She went to a midwife about it, but did not, she says, tell her of our practice; the midwife said it was a bearing down of the womb, by weakness, and told her what I should do, which I did, but to no purpose. Ever since I have been so, I have not had the course of nature [menstruation], have great pain in my back, and my belly is swelled, am not near so strong as I was, my countenance much paler, and appetite less. It has almost distracted me, and unfits me for my learning, and am afraid I am so hurt, as that it cannot be remedied.

O! that I should be so wicked, I, who have had a much nobler education (and should know better) than is common to most of my sex; that am versed in the classics, and designed by my friends, who are very rich, for something above the common station of my sex; I say, that I should so filthily debase myself, wrong my body, and, which is worse, my soul, is surprising even to myself. Had I read more the Bible, and less in Martial, Juvenal, Ovid, &c it had been better form, but those books Rochester [a famous sexual libertine], and Plays, at first debauched my silly fancy. But I hope, as now, both myself and maid have, on consulting your curious discourse of Self-Pollution, abandon’d the practice, and resolved, through God’s Grace, to commit it no more, we shall find pardon, and my infirm body, from your hands, good sir, relief. She ails nothing, is a strong wench of twenty-seven, myself of a tender make, and naturally inclined to be weakly, and but just turned of eighteen. I have with this, sent you a guinea fee, and desire your cordial advice, what I had best to do, and your opinion of my case, sealed up safe, directed to Mrs E.N. and I will send for it tomorrow morning, at the bookseller’s where this is left; and, sir, I must needs desire you to send me this letter back, that I may have the satisfaction of committing it to the flames myself. According to your answer, you shall hear further from,

SIR,

Your ever obliged, and

Most obedient humble Servant,

E.N.

NOT, sir, but you may copy my letter first, and if you think worthwhile, to print it also in your next edition, as a caution to others; but would not that my hand be seen by any besides your self, the circumstances of the relation, so as not to be know ’tis me, I have taken care of and guarded against.

The un-named author and “doctor” responded with the warning that the if she persisted in these “unnatural practices,” she may experience an unwanted change of sex.

THIS young lady’s case, though the height of her lust, and force and frequency of abusing herself, and probably the unnatural proponderance of the part, is no more, according to the account she gives, than a relaxation of the Clitoris, a thing common to many of the sex, both in the single and married, who are vigorous and lustful, and have given up themselves to the practice of Self-Pollution for any time. In some women it extends itself, and is enlarged when inflated to the exact likeness and size of a human Penis erect, except that it has no perforation (though it really looks, by the natural impression at the end, as if there was a passage) nor is altogether so long, but yet it erects and falls as that does, in proportion to the venereal desire or inclination of the woman. I have had in my time one or two under this circumstance, by the same practice, for cure, who upon their living afterwards chaste, and using some astringent foments, and a few internals, to regulate the inordinate and enraged venereal desires, have been brought to rights, and the parts restored to their pristine, natural state and condition. It was the like case of this lady’s, that gave rise to the report of two Nuns at Rome, having changed their sex, and which had made such a noise in that city, that the Pope, upon hearing of it, gave orders for their being inspected by some cardinals. Dr Carr, in his medicinal epistles, translated by Dr Quincy, has in his answer to a letter sent him by a divine, upon the subject of it, wrote his opinion at large, which as it may confirm mine, in relation to the aforesaid lady’s case, and be of some use both to practitioners and patients, I shall not think much to transcribe it, and give it to the reader, verbatim. It is his 6th Epistle, entitled, Concerning two nuns reported to have changed their sex.

A gay couple in Berlin, ca 1930. (via the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

85 YEARS AGO: German Reichstag Committee Approves Repeal of Paragraph 175: 1929. In 1897, Magnus Hirschfeld (see May 14) co-founded the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre Komitee (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee), the first gay rights organizaiotn in history. The WhK’s first project was to lobby for the repeal of Germanys infamous Paragraph 175, which criminalized homosexuality between men (women were unmentioned in the anti-gay code). After three decades of lobbying, the WhK came tantalizingly close to achieving its goal when the Reichstag’s Commission for Law Reform voted 15 to 13 in favor of a resolution to repeal §175.

But the crash of world stock markets two weeks later and the resulting Great Depression and political instability quickly overwhelmed the Reichstag, which suddenly found itself with more pressing matters to contend with. By 1930, Germany was besieged by massive unemployment and the Nazi party became the second-largest party in the Reichstag following the September elections. The rest, as they say, is history. The Nazi’s expanded §175′s reach in 1935, resulting in a tenfold increase in convictions with authorizaiton to incarcerate gay men in concentration camps. In 1950, Communist East Germany abolished the Nazi amendments, but West Germany kept them until 1969 when it effectively decriminalized consenstual relationships for those above the age of 21. East Germany finally decriminaized consenstual relationships between gay men in 1988, and a reunited Germany followed suit in 1994.

55 YEARS AGO: FBI Warns of Extortion Ring: 1959. With consensual same-sex relationships criminalized in all fifty states, and when the discovery of one’s homosexuality typically resulted in being fired from one’s job and evicted by one’s landlord, there was a great deal of money to be made in blackmailing gay people — a fact which was, itself, often used to further justify the wholesale ban on federal employment and security clearances for gay people. But regardless of the victims, blackmail was still against the law, as demonstrated by this FBI warning that appeared in The Washington Post:

The FBI warned last night that a man believed the co-leader of a Nationwide extortion ring is reported heading for Washington. He is George Brooks, 55, charged with extorting $25,000 from a man in Tucson, Ariz. Brooks is named on a warrant also charging William Tavenner, 26, a former Washington resident, whose present location is unknown.

The FBI said the men are believed to head an extortion ring of 25 people who prey on homosexuals by posing as policemen. They have been operating in Phoenix. Portland. Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago.

Tavenner. whose last known address here was listed at 1400 Fairmont St. NW, is reported by the FBI to have a record including charges of impersonating a police officer, narcotics violation, assault and disorderly conduct.

[Source: "Extortionist ring believed coming here." The Washington Post (October 17, 1959): D4.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
160 YEARS AGO: Oscar Wilde: 1854-1900. His wit and flamboyance, tinged  twith an undercurrent of rebellion, made him one of the most popular celebrities of his day. His three comedies of society, written between 1892 and 1895, lampooned Victorian values and enjoyed tremendous success in the London theater. But that just prepared the ground for his masterpiece, 1894′s The Importance of Being Earnest, and that made Wilde a superstar. That acclaim, combined with his embrace of aestheticism, belief that the pursuit of beauty was a virtue in itself, placed him at the forefront of London’s high fashion, a rare position for a man to take. He was a flashy dresser and he entertained lavishly. “I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china,” he once quipped. The life he lived, however, was not seen as manly, and his high profile meant that he quickly became an easy target for those who saw him as a dangerous threat to Britain’s moral bearing. Just a few days after Earnest’s premiere, a series of events began which would ultimately see Wilde tried for sodomy and gross indecency. His first criminal trial, which quickly became regarded as the trial of the century, is famous for the question that was put to him, a question that was on everyone’s mind:

Prosecutor: What is “the love that dare not speak its name?”

Wilde: “The love that dare not speak its name” in this century is such a great affection of an elder for a younger man as there was between David and Jonathan, such as Plato made the very basis of his philosophy, and such as you find in the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. It is that deep spiritual affection that is as pure as it is perfect. It dictates and pervades great works of art, like those of Shakespeare and Michelangelo, and those two letters of mine, such as they are. It is in this century misunderstood, so much misunderstood that it may be described as “the love that dare not speak its name,” and on that account of it I am placed where I am now. It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form of affection. There is nothing unnatural about it. It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an older and a younger man, when the older man has intellect, and the younger man has all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him. That it should be so, the world does not understand. The world mocks at it, and sometimes puts one in the pillory for it.

That case ended in a mistrial, but a second trial a month later saw him convicted of gross indecency and sentenced to two years’ hard labor. Wilde’s health declined sharply during the term. He collapsed from illness and hunger at one point, and suffered a rupture in his right ear drum during another mishap that would later contribute to his early death. When he was released in 1897, he was broken, both financially and physically. He moved to the continent, where he wandered during the last three years of his life. He spent the last months of his life in a run-down hotel in Paris. “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death,” he told an acquaintance. “One of us has got to go.” Not long after, he developed cerebral meningitis and died in November 30, 1900. He was only 46 years old.

Paul Monette: 1945-1995. The author, poet, and memoirist spent more than half of his life in the closet, the doors of which flug open when he met his future partner Roger Horwitz in 1974. That was the basis of his appropriately-named 1992 memoir, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, which won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. More gut-wrenching was is 1988 memoir Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, the first personal account of living with AIDS in the pre-cocktail era, chronicling Horwitz’s diagnosis and death, and Monettet’s own diagnosis. The New York Times said that the two books together “humanized the tragedy of the disease and the torment of denying one’s homosexuality, but it also brought to life the rich relationships that some gay men enjoy.” In 1989, Monette followed with another tribute to his late lover in an eighteen-poem cycle Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies for Rog.

Monette’s writings weren’t all so mordant. In addition to other volumes of poetry and “silly novels,” as he called them, he also wrote the novelizations for the films Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Scareface (1983), Predator (1987), and Midnight Run (1988). But he still had his own story to tell, with 1995′s Last Watch of the Night: Essays Too Personal and Otherwise, covering some the last chapters of his life. He wrote it while hooked to three intravenous tubes and taking fistfuls of medication daily. He died in 1995 in Los Angeles, where he lived with his partner of five years, Winston Wilde.

Bob Mould: 1960. He was the guitarist, vocalist and songwriter for the 1980s band Hüsker Dü, and for Sugar in the 1990s. Beginning in the late 1990s, Mould detoured from heavy sounds of his earlier work to dance music and electronica. Lately he had been performing as a live DJ with Rich Morel in Washington, D.C., and other events around the country under the collective name, Blowoff, but this year the duo announced that their hectic schedules could no longer accomodate future Blowoffs. His homosexuality was always something of an open secret, but the secrecy was dropped in 1994 when he outed himself in Spin after the magazine’s reporter threatened to out him. His memoir, See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, was released in 2011.

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?

Was it a Backtrack or a Pushback?

Jim Burroway

October 15th, 2014

CNN says it was a “backtrack“:

Under furious assault from conservative Catholics, the Vatican backtracked Tuesday on its surprisingly positive assessment of gays and same-sex relationships.

…In response to such reactions (from Conservative clerics), the Vatican backtracked a bit Tuesday. In a statement, it said the report on gays and lesbians was a “working document,” not the final word from Rome.

The Vatican also said that it wanted to welcome gays and lesbians in the church, but not create “the impression of a positive evaluation” of same-sex relationships, or, for that matter, of unmarried couples who live together.

Calling it a backtrack is an over-reach in my opinion. To understand what happened, it’s very important to understand what the two documents were and what they mean. The first document released Monday was a Relatio, which is nothing but an interrim report released by the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family. Its weight in Catholic doctrine is nil, and its authority in Catholic practices is comparably low. Like all interim reports, it includes (very) preliminary findings, asks a bunch of questions, and proposes points to consider between now and when the Bishops gather again a year from now. But also like all interim reports, it does point to some kind of a direction in terms of how Pope Francis hopes the discussions will follow. I think this is especially true given how unceremoniously he dumped Cardinal Raymond Burke as head of the Apostolic Signatura (a sort of a Vatican Supreme Court) just before the Synod’s start. You may remember Burke. He’s the one who said this during the Synod:

Burke was also among the loudest complainers on Tuesday:

He strongly criticized yesterday’s Relatio … which the Catholic lay group Voice of the Family had called a “betrayal,” saying it proposes views that “faithful shepherds … cannot accept,” and betrays an approach that is “not of the Church.” … The relatio, he said, proposes views that many Synod fathers “cannot accept,” and that they “as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept.” … “Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable,” Burke told Olsen.

And Maggie Gallagher was in tears:

I hope to respond intellectually to the synod report. Tears right now are streaming from my face, and it is not about objections to welcoming gay people. There is something more profoundly at stake for me.

Is this me? In the corner?

Conservatives are furious, with some yearning for the good old days of Pope Benedict XVI’s Bavarian rigidity. And in reaction to that fury, CNN saw what they thought was a “backtrack,” which brings us to the second document released Tuesday in Italian. Here’s the rushed English translation (it’s so rushed that I had to correct part of it):

In relation to homosexuals, moreover, the need for welcome was highlighted, but with just prudence [my correction], so that the impression of a positive evaluation of such a tendency on the part of the Church is not created. The same care was advised with regard to cohabitation.

As for the “just prudence,” that likely refers to the second paragraph of the Relatio’s section on “welcoming homosexual persons“:

…The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions…

Quite a bit of negativity there. I don’t think “a positive evaluation of such a tendency on the part of the Church” is possible when we’re not considered on the same footing as heterosexual couples. But again, it’s important to understand the nature of this second document. It’s title tells you the whole story: Eleventh General Congregation: Unofficial Summary of the Free Discussions in the Assembly. If the Relatio was an interim report, then the Unofficial Summary is akin to minutes of Tuesday’s meeting and nothing more. And those minutes don’t suggest a backtrack, but rather a pushback from some of the more Conservative voices. That pushback may yet force a backtrack, but it hasn’t yet. This week, the Synod is preparing the more final Relatio Synodi, which means that this Relatio is something of a first draft of a final interrim report. It will be discussed on Thursday (another summary of speeches will be published then) and voted on next Saturday. What can we expect in the next several days? It’s very hard to know. Vatican Insider’s coverage of a press briefing after the Unofficial Summary‘s release hints at all kinds of intrigue and suspicions:

Two of the men moderating the discussions spoke at today’s briefing: the South African Wilfrid Fox Napier and the Italian Fernando Filoni. The briefing illustrated further the frank and collegial nature of the Synod debates. “Some within the circle were surprised at the media’s reactions; some seemed perplexed, as if the Pope had said, as if the Synod had decided, as if…,” the prefect of Propaganda Fide said, underlining the “extraordinary richness of the debate”. Cardinal Napier was more critical. He spoke of “dissatisfaction” among Synod participants and said the text had been “misinterpreted” partly because of the media but also because many people’s expectations are perhaps a little unrealistic. Much of the content of the relatio post disceptationem is not very helpful in getting the Church’s teaching across, Napier pointed out. He said he suspected that those leading the Synod are not committed to expressing the opinions of the entire Synod but only those of a specific group. The final document should include a “clarification”. Filoni, on the other hand, said he could not give the exact percentage of Synod Fathers who expressed concern about the text yesterday and today. He underlined that the text was generally appreciated and that the reaction to the text’s approach was essentially positive. But it needs to be improved in terms of contextualization. Regarding homosexuality, Napier said his concern is that the final document will not match the media’s take on the draft, and anything said in the future will simply look like “damage control”.

…The South African cardinal expressed surprise at the decision to publish the relatio post disceptationem, while Filoni said some in the circuli minores wondered whether it had been published by mistake. But Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi explained that the relatio post disceptationem “is always presented the minute it is ready” and this has been the case at every Synod. What probably caused the excitement was the “nature of the issue, which attracted a great deal of attention and raised many expectations.” Fr. Lombardi announced that Mgr. Rino Fisichella and the President of the US Bishops’ Conference, Joseph Kurtz will be attending tomorrow’s briefing. The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and the Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx will speak in Thursday and Friday’s briefings, respectively.

The two Cardinals given speaking allotments are interesting choices. In 2012, Cardinal Schönborn reinstated a gay man in a registered partnership to a pastoral council after his election was vetoed by the parish priest.  Last year, he earned Lifesite News’s wrath when he urged respect for same-sex relationships. Cardinal Marx has also been critical of the Church’s approach to LGBT people, even going so far as to say that he would pray for their relationships.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, October 15

Jim Burroway

October 15th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Bakersfield, CA; Nashville, TN (Black Pride); Sarasota, FL; Tucson, AZ; Winston-Salem, NC.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Prescott, AZ; Watertown, NY.

Other Events This Weekend: Ft. Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; World Gay Rodeo Finals, Ft. Worth, TX; Kansai Queer Film Festival, Osaka, Japan; Louisville LGBT Film Festival, Louisville, KY; Rainbow Festival, Phoenix, AZ; Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Seattle, WA; Bush Garden Gay Days, Williamsburg, VA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From the Cornell Daily Sun, Ithaca, NY, October 14, 2014.

From the Cornell Daily Sun, Ithaca, NY, March 19, 1970, page 7.

Morris Angell had no intention of opening a gay bar a block or so from the campus of Cornell University in Ithcaca, New York. But it became one anyway when members of Cornell’s Gay Liberation Front discovered Morrie’s and adopted it as their own. It quickly became one of their favorite watering holes, mainly because, unlike other bars in town, Angell more or less left them alone. Angell didn’t want his bar to gain a reputation as a gay bar, so as long as they didn’t show affection or dance together, everything was fine. Then one day in October of 1970, a rather nasty letter to the editor of the campus newspaper said that Morrie’s was the place to go for those who appreciate “fag aesthetics.” That very night, Angell refused to serve drinks to his gay patrons and ordered them to leave. That act became a galvanizing moment for Cornell’s GLF (see below).

The address is now home to Dunbar’s, a straight bar with free popcorn and scary bathrooms.

The first issue of ONE, January 1953.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
ONE Magazine Founded: 1952. The idea of publishing America’s first nationally-distributed magazine dedicated to issues confronting gay people took root when bored Mattachine members in Los Angeles were questioning whether the Society would ever amount to much. Martin Block (see Jul 27), who was one of the earliest society members, recalled “We had these meetings and we’d kick some ideas around and sometimes they would be very stimulating but very often they wouldn’t be.”

Dale Jennings (see Oct 21) was similarly bored and “didn’t have the patience to sit there night after night and hear everybody whine over and over again how tough it was to be homosexual.” Not that it wasn’t tough: Jennings had just come off of a rare victory when he was acquitted by a jury after being falsely entrapped by police on a morals charge (see Jun 23). Another member, Dorr Legg (a.k.a Bill Lambert, whose  home they were meeting in / see Dec 15) agreed. “We were just in a fury and everybody began sputtering: ‘We’ve got to tell them!’ Up speaks this little pipsqueak: ‘Well, you need a magazine.’ It was just like a match to gasoline.”

Here is how ONE later picked up the story:

The following Wednesday an ardent handful of vaguely enthusiastic people assembled just a stone’s throw from Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. They decided that a mimeographed newsletter with exposes of local police methods, general articles and some news Items might be tried. There was much desultory talk about Art, Oppression and The Partisan Review.

The following day the host for the evening, whose chance remark it was that had set off the whole chain reaction, resigned. He found, on reflection, that the whole Idea was unintelligent, philosophically untenable and useless! This is just a little sidelight on the history of ONE, illustrating a type of the problems encountered.

Quite undaunted, the remaining few met with an attorney a few nights later. They asked some floundering questions that now look rather absurd but then seemed Important. And during the rest of 1952 they continued meeting every few days, right on through the holidays as well. Supporters resigned, or just plain “fell by the wayside”. New faces appeared, and then were seen no more. Time was wasted on trivia, even frivolity. Yet, through it all their leitmotif, “There MUST be a magazine,” somehow persisted.

What would be its name? This was a tedious, wearying hassle, over endless cups of coffee. The “dignified and ambiguous” school argued against the “Iet’s-be-frank” group, The thesaurus and the Oxord Dictionary became the constant companions of everyone in the group.

You will laugh at some of the proposals. We did. Such as “Raport” — (too much like a Bronx family name, someone quipped). “The Bridge” — (is it an engineering journal?) There were many others, and even more preposterous. It was finally voted, in sheer desperation – for it had to be admitted that it hardly seemed sensible to debate endlessly over the name for a publication that did not yet exist — that the unborn infant would be christened, “The Wedge.” But try as best we might there was little enthusiasm about the decision.

The next assignment had been to discover a masthead-slogan. So the researches began again. Guy Rousseau, a hard-working young negro member of the group came up with one from Thomas Carlyle. It ran, “A mystic bond of brotherhood makes all men one.”

The masthead for ONE’s inaugural issue, January 1953. The Thomas Carlyle quote would be featured in every issue throughout ONE’s existence. (Click to enlarge.)

As a flash of inspiration it hit everyone at once. That was it! For there was the rapport. There was the wedge. And the bridge. “Makes all men one.” The name would be … ONE, for that is what everyone had wanted all along, a means for bringing about oneness, a coming together with understanding. The bitterness and hatreds, the persecution and injustices and discrimination would be stopped by dispelling ignorance , by showing THE OTHERS that all of us are humans alike, all of us living together on the same earth, under the same skies.

Surely there was “a mystic bond of brotherhood,” and ONE would tell them about it, at last all should see that men are brothers indeed, slde-by-side, all of them reaching toward the very same stars in the heavens. ONE would do this!

It was a rather dramatic moment. The little handful sat looking at each other in startled discovery. Something tremendous loomed up and around and among them, a challenge, electric with power and momentum. They well realized that there were obstacles before them, obstacles of almost terrifying proportions. There was no one who felt very confident. But a new concept had been born, a concept that thenceforth took possession of their loyalties and irresistibly carried them along.

Don Slater, W. Dorr Legg, and Jim Kepner. Circa 1957-1958. (via ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives)

Legg became ONE’s business manager. Three others present were Martin Block (he became ONE’s president), Dale Jennings (vice president) and Don Slater (secretary, see Aug 21)), who together made up ONE’s Editorial Board. Guy Rousseau (real name: Bailey Whitaker) became circulation manager. Jean Corbin (as “Eve Ellore”) joined the group as the magazine’s primary artist. Other important contributors included Jim Kepner (see Feb 14), Fred Frisbie (as “George Mortenson”), Irma “Corky” Wolf (as “Ann Carll Reid”), and Stella Rush (as “Sten Russell”). As you can tell, pseudonyms were common, though not always for reasons you might think. While some authors consistently wrote under one pseudonym, Jennings, Block, Legg, Kempner and others often wrote under multiple personas, and sometimes in addition to their real names, in order to give readers the impression that ONE’s staff was larger than it actually was.

ONE debuted in January of 1953 with an article by Dale Jennings describing his 1952 arrest by Los Angeles police. In 1958, ONE made history when it won an important Supreme Court victory when the Court decided that the U.S. Post Office could not refuse to distribute ONE because homosexual content, per se, was not pornographic (see Jan 13). ONE, Inc. also established the ONE Institute of Homophile Studies, which sponsored a series of seminars and graduate studies programs. ONE ceased publication in 1968.

[Sources: James T. Sears: Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation (New York: Harrington Park Press, 2006): 166-167.

"How ONE began." ONE 3, no. 2 (February 1955): 8-15.]

(Leilani Hu, Cornell Daily Sun.)

(Leilani Hu, Cornell Daily Sun.)

Cornell University’s Gay Liberation Front Launches a Boycott and Sit-In at Morrie’s Bar: 1970. Morris Angell most certainly didn’t set out to run a gay bar when he opened Morrie’s just across the street from Cornell University in the spring of 1969. In fact, that was probably the last thing on his mind. But members of Cornell’s Gay Liberation Front had other ideas. Noticing the lack of social options, the decided to pick a public place and make it gay by just showing up. Janis Kelly later remembered how the GLF went about picking Morrie’s:

We were sitting around moaning about why we didn’t have a gay bar, and there was this notice that what had been the Eddygate restaurant was going to be reopening as Morrie’s bar. So Bob [Roth] said, “That would be the perfect place for a gay bar; it’s too bad it’s not a gay bar.” … And somehow Bob just had this inspiration, “Well, shouldn’t it be a gay bar? What does it take to make a gay bar? A bar full of gay people. This is not difficult. So then why can’t gay people just go to this bar? Why can’t we make it a gay bar? Well, because nobody ever did it before. And people will go in and it will be full of straight people.” So then he said, “Well, we’ll just call everybody we know of and tell ’em a gay bar is opening.” … So we all went home and spent the whole afternoon on the phone calling everybody we knew with a perfectly straight face and saying “Hey, I hear there is a gay bar opening. You want to go to the bar? We’re all going to go at 11:00 on Saturday.” And sure enough, when the bar opened, it was packed to the gills with queers. It was great.

So that’s how Morrie’s became a gay bar. Angell was willing to tolerate his customers, but that tolerance only went so far since he didn’t want his business to become publicly identified as a gay bar. He prohibited same-sex dancing, kissing, or other obviously-gay carrying-on, rules which the gay students more or less were willing to accept.  They were even careful to keep Morrie’s out of their newsletters and other written material, lest the bar gain a reputation that would be uncomfortable for their host.

That quiet arrangement held for more than a year until October 14, 1970, when the campus paper, the Cornell Daily Sun, published a wildly homophobic letter to the editor by Doron Schwartz, a student member of the Sun’s student board. Addressed to a Sun’s journalist who accused him of being anti-gay, he then proceeded to prove her point. “I have nothing against fags or dykes,” he wrote. “Some of my best friends know some. One such friend, Luigi, even takes his wife to Morrie’s to watch your type. They both appreciate fag aesthetics.” That very night, Angell ordered Robert Roth, the GLF’s unofficial leader (although the press often identified him as the group’s president), and several friends to “get out and don’t come back,” saying he didn’t want “their kind” in his bar.

Angell,Police

Morris Angel (left) watches as Capt. Raymond Price talks to protesters. (David Krathwohl, Cornell Daily Sun.)

They left, but the GLF did what it always does: they held a meeting and decided to return the following night for a sit-in. About fifty supporters crowded into the bar that night and refused to order drinks, while several hundred supporters outside chanting their support. Angell ordered  everyone out and the doors locked, orders that everyone ignored. Angell then called the police. Captain Raymond Price arrived, talked with GLF members, and then informed Angell, “You can’t insult these people. You can’t just refuse to serve them.” Angell agreed to back down, reluctantly. “I don’t say you’re welcome,” he told the crowd, “but I’ll have to serve you.”  Janis Kelly responded, “We’re going to be back her tomorrow. If he refuses to serve us, he’s going to have to close the bar.” But for the time being, the crisis was over with Cornell’s GLF scoring a major victory.

[Sources: Brett Beemyn. "The Silence Is Broken: A History of the First Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual College Student Groups." Journal of the History of Sexuality, 12, no. 2 (April 2003): 205-223.

Doron Schwartz. Letter to the Editor. Cornell Daily Sun (October 14,1970): 4. (All issues of the Cornell Daily Sun are available online here.)

Philip Dixon. "GLF Holds Sit-In at Eddy St. Bar." Cornell Daily Sun (October 16, 1970): 1, 10.]

Press conference announcing the formation of the National Gay Task Force. Front row L-R: Ron Gold, Howard Brown, Bruce Voeller, Nathalie Rockhill. Seated behind L-R: Martin Duberman, Barbara Gittings, Frank Kameny. (Click to enlarge.)

Press Conference Announcing Formation of National Gay Task Force: 1973. Dr. Howard Brown made the front page of The New York Times two weeks earlier when the former Health Administrator for New York Mayor John Lindsay’s administration came out of the closet. Brown had resigned in 1967 when he learned than an investigative reporter planned to expose homosexuals in City Hall.  His secret was not revealed, which meant the reasons for his resignation remained a mystery until he came out 1973. The response, he said, was overwhelmingly favorable, so much so that he decided to establish a new gay advocacy group. This new group, the National Gay Task Force (later to become the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, or NGLTF) would be the first such organization with a truly national scope. According to an article in The Village Voice:

The Gay Task Force will work nationally on gay civil rights legislation and discrimination against gay parents in custody and visitation cases, and will coordinate information from all parts of the country about the progress toward gay civil rights. According to a spokesman for the group, a major coming out of the closet of other well-known people is expected in the near future.

Dr. Bruce Voeller served as its first Executive Director. Other leaders of the new organization included historian Martin Duberman, pioneering activist Barbara Gittings, and Ronald Gold who had already played a pivotal role in the APA’s pending delisting of homosexuality as a mental illness later that year.

“No I don’t have it. Do you?” White House Spokesman Larry Speakes plays the comedian over AIDS.

AIDS a Laughing Matter at the White House: 1982. The very first public mention of AIDS at the White House was not an auspicious one. It was the subject of jokes and laughter between the press and White House Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speaks:

Q: Larry, does the President have any reaction to the announcement ­ the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, that AIDS is now an epidemic and have over 600 cases?

SPEAKES: What’s AIDS?

Q: Over a third of them have died. It’s known as “gay plague.” (Laughter.) No, it is. I mean it’s a pretty serious thing that one in every three people that get this have died. And I wondered if the President is aware of it?

SPEAKES: I don’t have it. Do you? (Laughter.)

Q: No, I don’t.

SPEAKES: You didn’t answer my question.

Q: Well, I just wondered, does the President ­

SPEAKES: How do you know? (Laughter.)

Q: In other words, the White House looks on this as a great joke?

SPEAKES: No, I don’t know anything about it, Lester.

Q: Does the President, does anyone in the White House know about this epidemic, Larry?

SPEAKES: I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s been any ­

Q: Nobody knows?

SPEAKES: There has been no personal experience here, Lester.

Q: No, I mean, I thought you were keeping ­

SPEAKES: I checked thoroughly with Dr. Ruge this morning and he’s had no (laughter) ­no patients suffering from AIDS or whatever it is.

Q: The President doesn’t have gay plague, is that what you’re saying or what?

SPEAKES: No, I didn’t say that.

Q: Didn’t say that?

SPEAKES: I thought I heard you on the State Department over there. Why didn’t you stay there? (Laughter.)

Q: Because I love you Larry, that’s why (Laughter.)

SPEAKES: Oh I see. Just don’t put it in those terms, Lester. (Laughter.)

Q: Oh, I retract that.

SPEAKES: I hope so.

Q: It’s too late.

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The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, October 14

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), September 1979, page 40.

From GPU News (Milwaukee, WI), September 1979, page 40.

They came by planes, trains, automobiles and busses from across the country to attend the first ever March on Washington for lesbian and gay rights. According to Milwaukee’s GPU News:

Rev. Troy Perry, founder of MCC, and feminist-comedienne Robin Tyler will headline a whistlestop tout aboard Amtrak’s Gay Freedom Train to the march. Joining them for station rallies in Oakland, San Fransisco, Ogden (UT). Reno, Cheyenne, Denver, Lincoln, Omaha, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Wilmington will be representatives from many local and national gay organizations. Greg Carmack of the National March Transportation Office in Houston commented: “Planes, trains, and buses from all parts of the country are filling up, so people should call the Information Center soon to learn what travel options are available from their home area and buy tickets early.”

Dr. Norman Reider

TODAY IN HISTORY:
When Gay Men Fake Their Cures: 1956. Dr. Norman Reider, who headed the Department of Psychiatry at San Francisco’s Mt. Zion Hospital, gave a very perceptive (for 1956) talk at a meeting of the California Academy of General Practices in Los Angeles. He began his talk, titled “Problems of Homosexuality,” by reminding his audience that the problems were as much society’s problems as they were the homosexuals’ problems:

Hardly any medical subject is more ambiguous and confused than that of homosexuality, and it is a most difficult subject for the clinician to delineate in a scientific or even empirical way. For centuries homosexuality has been more a moral and legal than a medical concern. Throughout the ages people have tried to make criminal law enforce their ambitions regarding moral law, especially in their attempts to control sexual behavior. Among sex laws, none are so punitive or inequitable as those concerning homosexual acts, particularly male homosexual activities. Religious traditions and attitudes against homosexuality have thus been extended into substantive law out of all proportion to the social damage involved in most homosexual acts. Sin is confused with crime, and vague laws about sexual behavior give law enforcement officers a dangerous discretionary power. …

The great majority of homosexual acts do not endanger the social structure or disrupt the family. No doubt many early societies considered homosexual activity a threat to family and societal solidarity, and taboos arose; but when these are examined they can be seen as part and parcel of man’s fears of his own impulses-drives for which he sought controls. Modern studies like those of the late Dr. Kinsey and his associates serve to show that society has little to fear from homosexual activity. Yet the fear remains, in that a homosexual person continues to be the object of extraordinary punishment or the butt of derisive jokes and contempt. We should remember, when we participate in such attacks, that we follow the age-old formula of trying to fight off or laugh off something that we either do not understand or fear.

Later in his talk, Reider explained how the overwhelmingly hostile attitudes toward gay men in particular have preventing the medical community from understanding exactly how ineffective they have been in trying to “cure” them. One such avenue that was tried in the 1940s and 1950s was hormonal treatment, particularly with the administration of androgens such as testosterone, on the theory that gay men were gay because they weren’t “masculine” enough:

A story of my clinical experience in southern California some years ago will illustrate the complications involved in the evaluation of hormonal treatment. The medical literature at that time contained favorable reports of treatment of homosexuality by androgens, and it acquired a certain vogue. Several California jurists who knew the futility of sentencing homosexuals to jail began sentencing the convicted person to undergo treatment. Some persons were sentenced to have hormonal treatment, others to have psychiatric treatment. As a result of these efforts further articles reported successful treatment with androgens — successes that I as a psychiatrist envied.

One day a young man came to my office to consult me about a problem that only skirted on his homosexuality. A confirmed homosexual, he had little anxiety about his activities because he considered himself a constitutional homosexual and felt relatively blameless. In the exploratory course of our discussion he said that he had once been treated by androgens, not entirely of his own will, as the result of a court sentence. He then described how he and several of his associates had contrived to “respond” to the treatment, varying their stories so as to give them the hue of veracity. He said that he arrived late for his first appointment and grumbled at the injection. The nurse reminded him to return for his next one “or else.” Next time he complained of noticing no improvement at all. On the third visit he told the nurse he was depressed and said that he and his boy friend had fallen out and might separate. Next time he was more depressed and was moving out, he said, because he could not tolerate his boy friend. The fifth time he carefully implied he was less depressed, and reported no difference except that he had no desire for anything or anybody. On the sixth visit he told the nurse: “A simply fantastic thing happened. I’ve been going to a local bookstore for years and never noticed before a very pretty girl who works as a clerk there.” By the seventh visit he reported making a date with the girl and at the end of treatment he claimed satisfactory sexual relations with her. This case figured in a published report of successful treatment. Meantime this patient and his companions who had also been treated went on with their homosexual activities, except that some of them suffered from an increased drive — the result of the injections of androgens.

Unfortunately, Reider doesn’t provide a reference for the published report which featured this patient.

[Sources: Norman Reider. "Problems of homosexuality." California Medicine, 86, no. 6 (June 1957): 381-384. Available online here.]

Anita Bryant Gets a Pie in the Face: 1977. After leading a successful campaign to revoke Miami’s anti-discrimination ordinance earlier that summer (see Jun 7), anti-gay activist Anita Bryant and her husband, Bob Green, took their campaign on the road to repeal other local anti-discrimination ordinances in St. Paul, MN (see Apr 25), Wichita, KS (see May 9), and Eugene, OR (see May 23). The Miami campaign had been particularly nasty, even by the standards of the day with Bryant claiming that because “homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children, therefore they must recruit our children.” That campaign forever linked Bryant’s name with vicious homophobia, and made her public enemy number one in the gay community.

But during an appearance in Des Moines, Iowa, Bryant’s was trying to soft-pedal her message: “If we were going to go on a crusade across America to try to do away with the homosexuals, then we certainly would have done it on June the eighth after one of the most overwhelming victories in the country. But we didn’t. We tried to avoid it…” Thank you, Anita, for small favors, I guess.

Thom Higgins of Minneapolis wasn’t so thankful. It was about at that point, with television cameras rolling, when he threw a pie directly into her face. Stunned at first, Bryant tried to make light of it by saying, “At least it was a fruit pie.” At Green’s suggestion, Bryant began praying for God to forgive the activist’s “deviant lifestyle” before bursting into tears. Green urged that no one retaliate against Higgins, but later in the parking lot Green caught up with the protesters, grabbed a reserve banana cream pie from one of the protesters and threw it back at them.

35 YEARS AGO: First Gay Rights March on Washington: 1979. Somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 people from across the country and around the world marched down Pennsylvania Avenue for a rally at the Washington Monument for the first national gay rights march in U.S. history. The parade itself featured a 100-piece Great American Yankee (GAY) Freedom Band from Los Angeles, which was accompanied by a 20-member drill team and two male baton twirlers. The Los Angeles Gay Men’s Chorus also provided entertainment from the stage on the mall, where dozens of speakers called for an end to homophobia and discrimination. Demands included the repeal of sodomy laws, approval of a proposed expansion of the Civil Rights Act to cover sexual orientation, and an end to discrimination in child custody cases. They also called on President Jimmy Carter to issue an Executive order ending the ban on gays in the military and ending discrimination in the civil service and among government contractors.

Steve Ault, the march’s organizer, declared, “This rally marks the first time that the gay constituency has pulled together on a national level and that is a very important political step for us.”

Anti-gay religious leaders also saw the importance of the march, and called a news conference and prayer session in a nearby congressional office building. Rev. Jerry Falwell told reporters that Christians nationwide prayed for the marchers, “asking the Lord to deliver them from their lives of perversion.” He likened gay people to bank robbers, thieves and other “sinners,” and said that they represented “an outright assault on the family.” His biggest sound bite though was not particularly creative: “God did not create Adam and Steve, but Adam and Eve,” he said. It made about as little sense then as it does today.

The entire demonstration went off peacefully, with a few minor exceptions. Just as the last few hundred were leaving the Mall, someone fired off a tear gas canister. Amy Clark, 21, from Brattleboro, Vermont, said, “Everybody thought it was just a smoke bomb, but then the people around me started choking. The wind soon blew the fumes away.”

Congress Bans Federal Funds for AIDS Programs that “Promote Homosexuality”: 1987. In a 94-2 vote, the U.S. Senate approved an amendment to the  Health and Human Services appropriations bill proposed by Sen. Jesse Helms to restrict federal funds for AIDS education to materials stressing sexual abstinence and which did not “promote homosexuality.” The bill contained $946 million for AIDS education efforts, prevention and research, and it marked a major expansion in the federal government’s response to the emerging pandemic. But Helms cited AIDs educational comic books produced by the Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York — material that had not been paid for with federal funds — and said, “If the American people saw these books, they would be on the verge of revolt.” He claimed the books showed “graphic detail of a sexual encounter between two homosexual men. The comic books do not encourage a change in that perverted behavior. In fact, the comic books promote sodomy.”

The only Senators voting against the measure were Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) and Sen. Lowell Weicker (R-CT), who said, “If you’re going to censor that education, you’ve got no solution” to the AIDs crisis. The amendment would later be approved by the House in a 358-47 vote. It would remain the law of the land until 1992, when a federal court ruled that the restrictions were so vague they violated AIDS service organizations’ First and Fifth Amendment rights.

15 YEARS AGO: Gay Son Denounces California Marriage Ban Sponsor: 1999. When California State Sen. Pete Knight was first elected in 1996, he twice tried but failed to pass an amendment to the California Family Law statute to restrict marriage to a man and a woman. Those failures convinced Knight that the only way to pass his cherished legislation was to go around the legislature entirely and put the proposed law on the ballot as a state initiative. He then formed a campaign committee which spent eleven months collecting thousands of signatures. In November of 1998, the popularly-called Knight Initiative qualified for the March 2000 ballot as Proposition 22. That marked the start of a bruising campaign aimed squarely, once again, at California’s gay community.

There was one person in the gay community who took Knight’s efforts more personally than anyone else. That was Knight’s son, David Knight, a Gulf War veteran who published an op-ed in The Los Angeles Times. The younger Knight blasted his father for pushing Prop 22 to further his conservative political ends despite having a gay son, as well as a gay brother who died of AIDS. “I believe, based on my experience, that this is a blind, uncaring, uninformed knee-jerk reaction to a subject about which he knows nothing and wants to know nothing about but which serves his political career,” he wrote. He also said that three years earlier — you can do the math: that would be at about the time Knight first tried to ban same-sex marriage in the state legislature — David told his father that he was gay and had a life partner. From that point on, “my relationship with my father was over. I can’t begin to explain the hurt that has come from this rejection.”

The elder Knight’s response to his son’s op-ed could barely conceal his embarrassment. “I regret that my son felt he needed to force a private, family matter into the public forum through an editorial. Although I don’t believe he was fair in describing the true nature of our relationship, that is a subject which should remain between the two of us. I care deeply about my son.”

Prop 22 would go on to pass in March of 2000, 61% to 39%. But because it was an initiative rather than a constitutional amendment, it could be struck down if the California Supreme Court were to decide that it ran contrary to the state constitution. The Court did precisely that on May 15, 2008, which then opened the fight for Prop 8 later that year.

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FL’s AG Bondi asks state supremes to rule

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2014

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) has been defending her state’s ban on same-sex marriage in a way that has infuriated anti-gay activists. She simply refuses to make wild claims about how evil gays are going to destroy society or how states have really really good reasons – totally not bigoted reasons – for keeping Teh Ghays away from marriage.

Instead, she argues that the state has the right to set marriage laws for themselves.

In July, Monroe County Circuit Judge Luis Garcia found that argument lacking. He further found that the wacky amicus briefs arguing that gay marriage would just ruin everything for everyone were evidence that anti-gay laws are based in animus. In July, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel found the same.

This was followed by Federal Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle who found the ban unconstitutional in Federal Court.

Here’s where things get a bit interesting.

Bondi appealed the federal decision to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. She also appealed the state decisions at the Florida Supreme Court. The plaintiffs were urging the Florida State Supreme Court to hear the case expeditiously, but Bondi requested that they hold off on ruling until the US Supreme Court took up one of the appeals that were before it, either the Fourth, the Seventh or the Tenth.

But SCOTUS chose not to hear any of those appeals. And today Bondi took a surprising step. (Miami Herald)

In a startling move Monday night, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide once-and-for-all whether same-sex couples can marry in the Sunshine State.

“That is unquestionably an important issue, and the Plaintiffs, the State, and all citizens deserve a definitive answer,” Bondi’s office wrote in a 6 p.m. filing to the Florida Supreme Court. “Until recently, the issue was squarely before the United States Supreme Court, and it appeared that a definitive answer was coming. … Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court decided not to answer the question.”

Bondi’s “once and for all” language suggests that she expects an outcome that would withhold further review. In other words, it appears that Bondi thinks that the decisions will be upheld and the ban will be found unconstitutional. And it also appears that the state court is the quickest way for this to be accomplished.

The decision requires approval by the US Circuit Court. But it now seems ever more likely that marriage equality will come for Florida sooner rather than later.

Nevada anti-gay group accuses Ninth Circuit of rigging the system

Timothy Kincaid

October 13th, 2014

In my professional life I work in a legal environment. And over time I have observed that one sure-fire way to guarantee that you will be treated harshly is to accuse a judge of impropriety. Even if a judge has made a clerical error, attorneys will go out of their way to not appear to be critical, following the first rule of litigation: ‘don’t piss off the judge’.

Which makes an appeal by Nevada’s Coalition for the Protection of Marriage particularly interesting. In asking that the Ninth Circuit reconsider it’s marriage ruling by an en mass hearing, they adopted a fascinating strategy: accuse the Ninth Circuit of rigging the results.

Further — en banc review is regrettably necessary to cure the appearance that the assignment of this case to this particular three-judge panel was not the result of a random or otherwise neutral selection process. Troubling questions arise because a careful statistical analysis reveals the high improbability of Judge Berzon and Judge Reinhardt being assigned to this case by a neutral selection process. The attached statistical analysis, Exhibit 3, explains that since January 1, 2010, Judge Berzon has been on the merits panel in five and Judge Reinhardt has been on the merits panel in four of the eleven Ninth Circuit cases involving the federal constitutional rights of gay men and lesbians (“Relevant Cases”), far more than any other judge and far more than can reasonably be accounted for by a neutral assignment process. Indeed, statistical analysis demonstrates that the improbability of such occurring randomly is not just significant but overwhelming. Thus, the odds are 441-to-1 against what we observe with the Relevant Case — the two most assigned judges receiving under a neutral assignment process five and four assignments respectively (and anything more extreme).

We bring the issue of bias in the selection process to the Circuit’s attention with respect and with a keen awareness that questioning the neutrality of the panel’s selection could hardly be more serious. But the sensitivity of raising uncomfortable questions for this Circuit must be balanced against the interests of ordinary Nevadans, who deserve a fair hearing before a novel interpretation of constitutional law deprives them of the right to control the meaning of marriage within their State. A hearing before an impartial tribunal is, after all, a central pillar of what our legal tradition means by due process of law, and the means of selecting the tribunal certainly implicates notions of impartiality. Measures have been put in place by this Court to assign judges through a neutral process. But in this case the appearance is unavoidable that those measures failed. En banc review is necessary to ensure that the appearance of bias is cured by a fresh hearing before a panel, the selection of which is unquestionably neutral.

Yeah… that’s not going to end well for them.

A Quiet Revolution At St. Peters?

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2014

That’s the reaction from Fr. James Martin, S.J. of the Jesuit magazine America to the mid-term report from the Roman Catholic Church’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family which was convene by Pope Francis last week. Stunning sums it up nicely. Others are calling it a “revolution,” but that word will always mean something rather less radical in the very slow-moving Roman Catholic Church, where speed is measured in centuries rather than minutes, than it does in the real world. So keeping that perspective is always advised.

The Synod was called to examine the many changes taking place in the world and the Church’s response to them — or lack of response or inappropriate response, as the case may be. Items for discussion include waht is termed “irregular marraiges,” which include civil marriages that haven’t been sanctioned by the Church (civil marriages of divorced Catholics, for example), cohabitation, and same-sex marriages. These two paragraphs indicate that the Church, under Pope Francis, appears willing to consider lessons learned from “beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries”:

In this light, the value and consistency of natural marriage must first be emphasized. Some ask whether the sacramental fullness of marriage does not exclude the possibility of recognizing positive elements even the imperfect forms that may be found outside this nuptial situation, which are in any case ordered in relation to it. The doctrine of levels of communion, formulated by Vatican Council II, confirms the vision of a structured way of participating in the Mysterium Ecclesiae by baptized persons.

In the same, perspective, that we may consider inclusive, the Council opens up the horizon for appreciating the positive elements present in other religions (cf. Nostra Aetate, 2) and cultures, despite their limits and their insufficiencies (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 55). Indeed, looking at the human wisdom present in these, the Church learns how the family is universally considered as the necessary and fruitful form of human cohabitation. In this sense, the order of creation, in which the Christian vision of the family is rooted, unfolds historically, in different cultural and geographical expressions.

Realizing the need, therefore, for spiritual discernment with regard to cohabitation, civil marriages and divorced and remarried persons, it is the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. Following the expansive gaze of Christ, whose light illuminates every man (cf. Jn 1,9; cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22), the Church turns respectfully to those who participate in her life in an incomplete and imperfect way, appreciating the positive values they contain rather than their limitations and shortcomings.

[Note: Lumen Gentium, Nostra Aetate and Gaudium et Spes refer to three Vatican II Council documents.]

The document doesn’t offer much in the way of conclusions. Those won’t come until the Synod meets again in October of 2015. Instead, the report consists mainly of points for consideration, terms which are clearly influenced by Pope Francis’s push for what might be termed a “kinder, gentler church.” I don’t think the Church is about to undergo any significant doctrinal changes, but it does appear open to reconsider how it deals with situations that fall outside of its doctrines. That alone is surprising. But more surprising is what you’ll find under the heading of “welcoming homosexual persons”:

Welcoming homosexual persons

Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?

The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.

Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.

It’s interesting to me that the bishops chose to go with the more generic phrasing of “moral problems” rather than the more commonly used “intrinsically disordered” language of natural law. And it’s true that our relationships do pose “moral problems” — for the Church at least, if not necessarily for us. The Church’s moral problem is that it continues to treat gay people as outcasts and lepers. I know, that’s not what they meant when they included the phrase here, and you can also see the Bishops drawing some hard and fast limits on how far they’re willing to go. They are closed to the idea of sanctioning same-sex marriages, and they are sore about tax dollars being tied to nondiscrimination requirements.

But the glass is at least beginning to fill part of the way. This is the first time in the Church’s history that its leadership appears willing to look at our relationships in anything approaching a positive light. The document acknowledges that we have “gifts and talents” without having to, err, “balance” that that recognition with our living in sin. And it recognizes that there are same-sex relationships which rise “to the point of sacrifice” and “constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners.”

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of the word “sacrifice” in Catholic doctrine. It signifies an essential opening to all that is good and holy, whether it’s Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross or the daily sacrifices that we make as we go about our lives. Sacrifice is central to the Catholic understanding. Non-Catholics see it most visibly in the Lenten sacrifices and fasting, but Catholics see sacrifices, big and small, as a daily expression of their faith. Gay people living in same-sex relationships have been hitherto looked upon as selfish and narcissistic, unwilling to sacrifice their sexuality for their faith. And so for the Bishops to acknowledge that gays and lesbians are also living sacrificial lives is to suggest that something good and valuable is happening. That word’s appearance alone in this context is, I think, the most earth-shattering aspect of this statement.

The idea of gay couples offer anything “precious” in their relationships has never appeared in an official church document before. And the phrase “intrinsically disordered,” so reflexively deployed in the past, is nowhere to be found. At a news conference following the report’s release, Archbishop of Chieti-Vasto, Bruno Forte was asked about that section:

Asked if that stance represented a change in understanding of sexual orientation at the highest levels of the church, Forte said Monday: “What I want to express is that we must respect the dignity of every person.”

“The fact to be homosexual does not mean that this dignity does not have to be recognized and promoted,” he continued.

“The fundamental idea is the centrality of the person independent of different sexual orientations,” Forte said. “And I think it is the most important point. And also the attitude of the church to welcome persons who have homosexual orientation is based on the dignity of the person they are.”

Asked how the church would respond to same-sex unions, Forte said such unions have “rights that should be protected,” and this is an “issue of civilization and respect of those people.”

Fr. Martin says those two statements represent “a revolutionary change“:

. Nowhere in the document are such terms as “intrinsically disordered,” “objectively disordered,” or even the idea of “disinterested friendships” among gays and lesbians, which was used just recently. The veteran Vaticanologist John Thavis rightly called the document an “earthquake.”

…The document is just the mid-point summary of the bishops’ meetings over the last week, and is not a final declaration. (Besides, the Synod has another session next year, after which Pope Francis will issue his final apostolic exhortation, which will be his own teaching on the Synod’s deliberations.) But it is still revolutionary, as were some of the comments of the participants during the press conference today. Clearly Pope Francis’s call for openness at the beginning of the Synod has allowed the bishops to listen carefully, to speak their minds and to be open to new ways of thinking. As was the case at the Second Vatican Council, the participants may have gone into this Synod not expecting much openness or change, but the Holy Spirit is afoot.

Joshua McElwee, Vatican correspondent for the independent and often critical National Catholic Reporter, live-tweeted the document’s release and the press conference. He was also encouraged by the Synod’s interim report:

Conservative Catholics, on the other hand, are in quite a lather. The anti-gay Lifesite News calls it an “Earthquake” and rounds up the usual dose of conservative outrage:

However, it has also met a sharp rebuke from Catholic activists. John Smeaton, co-founder of Voice of the Family, a coalition of 15 international pro-famiy groups, said it is “one of the worst official documents drafted in Church history.”

“Thankfully the report is a preliminary report for discussion, rather than a definitive proposal,” he said in a press release. “It is essential that the voices of those lay faithful who sincerely live out Catholic teaching are also taken into account. Catholic families are clinging to Christ’s teaching on marriage and chastity by their finger-tips.”

…Patrick Buckley of European Life Network said the report is “an attack on marriage and family” that “in effect gives a tacit approval of adulterous relationships, thereby contradicting the Sixth Commandment and the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ on the indissolubility of marriage.”

Maria Madise, coordinator for Voice of the Family, asked whether parents must now “tell their children that the Vatican teaches that there are positive and constructive aspects to … mortal sins” such as cohabitation and homosexuality.

“It would be a false mercy to give Holy Communion to people who do not repent of their mortal sins against Christ’s teachings on sexual purity. Real mercy consists of offering people a clean conscience via the Sacrament of Confession and thus union with God,” she said.

“Many of those who claim to speak in the name of the universal Church have failed to teach the faithful. This failure has created unprecedented difficulties for families. No responsibility is taken for this failure in this disastrous mid-way report,” she added. “The Synod’s mid-way report will increase the incidence of faithful Catholics being labelled as ‘pharisees’, simply for upholding Catholic teaching on sexual purity.”

Of course, if the shoe fits, then Pharisees it is.

The Daily Agenda for Monday, October 13

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review (Portland, OR), May 1975, San Francisco  travel supplement, page 27.

From Northwest Gay Review (Portland, OR), May 1975, San Francisco travel supplement, page 27.

HardwickArrest

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Protest Against Bowers Decision at U.S. Supreme Court: 1987. Somewhere around 500,000 people had gathered for the second March on Washington that weekend, making it the largest gay-rights demonstration in U.S. history (see Oct 11). In the final act of the weekend’s demonstrations on Sunday, between two and three thousand people staged a demonstration outside of the U.S. Supreme Court to protest the Bowers V. Hardwick decision a year earlier (see Jun 30).

Police in riot gear and surgical gloves.

Police in riot gear and surgical gloves.

The protest itself was very orderly: after listening to speakers at the Capital Building’s East Steps, groups of between twenty and thirty protesters marched across the street to the Supreme Court plaza where they were met by police and arrested. This went on for wave after wave of demonstrators from 10:00 a.m. and about 2:00 p.m. Ignoring advice from health experts, police wore surgical gloves as they made the arrests, which only fueled shouts from the crowd of “‘Shame, shame!” and ”Your gloves don’t match your shoes!” Among those arrested was Michael Hardwick, whose 1982 arrest in Georgia on sodomy charges had led to the Supreme Court case (see Aug 3).

By the end of the day, the protest resulted in the largest mass arrest at the Supreme Court building since the May Day anti-war protest in 1971. It was also a remarkably disciplined act of civil disobedience.  “Civil disobedience is not new to gays and lesbians,” said Pat Norman of San Francisco, a co-chairman of the march. “Each and every day we commit the act of civil disobedience by loving each other.”

15 YEARS AGO: France Approves Civil Partnerships: 1999. After spending two years debating one of the most bitterly-contested pieces of legislation in years, France’s National Assembly passed the Civil Solidarity Pact by a vote of 315-249. The bill allowed unmarried couples to register their union to access some of the tax, legal and social welfare benefits of marriage. The bill however explicitly excluded adoption rights, and it was broadened to include any pair of adults living in the same household — including brothers and sisters or an elderly parent and a child — in an attempt to placate the opposition. Following its enactment, most of couples taking advantage of the Solidarity Pact were heterosexual couples. In 2013, France legalized full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 (PDF: 847KB/16 pages)

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009 (PDF: 847KB/16 pages)

5 YEARS AGO: Anti-Homosexuality Bill Introduced into Uganda’s Parliament: 2009. It was introduced into Parliament by M.P. David Bahati, an evangelical Christian with extensive ties with a secretive American Christian movement known simply as “The Fellowship” or “The Family”. (The group is perhaps best known for sponsoring the annual National Prayer Breakfast.) The Anti-Homosexuality Bill itself was a particularly draconian piece of legislation. about as draconian as it could get. It called for life imprisonment for anyone convicted of homosexuality, which itself was defined in such a loose way as to endanger virtually anyone who touched another person, whether fully clothed or not. It also provided fro the death penalty for anyone convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” which included, among other things, anyone who was HIV-positive (irrespective of consent or safe sex practices) and anyone who was a “repeat offender.” That clause gave the bill its popular nickname, the “Kill the Gays Bill.”

But the bill went much further than just targeting gay people. It penalized anyone who “aided and abetted” gay people and their relationships, including landlords, medical practitioners, and potentially their lawyers. It also penalized anyone who advocated for LGBT rights, and anyone who didn’t report family members to police. It even had extradition and extraterritorial clauses, which endangered Ugandan citizens and legal residents abroad as well as at home.

The bill produced an immediate firestorm of controversy both inside and outside of Uganda. European, Canadian and U.S. officials roundly condemned the bill, and several countries threatened to cut aid if the bill should become law. It also split American Evangelicals, whose deep connections with Bahati, President Yoweri Museveni, and other Ugandan political leaders came to light. Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, author of A Purpose-Driven Life and a significant player in missionary work in Uganda, at first refused to condemn the bill before eventually opposing the bill two weeks later. Many American religious leaders opposed the bill, but some lent their support, including

Scott Lively, whose talk at an infamous anti-gay conference eight months earlier that helped set the stage for the bill, said that, aside from the death penalty, it was “a step in the right direction.” Other avowed supporters of the bill included Andrew Wommack, World Net Daily’s Molotov Mitchell, pastor Lou Engle and American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer.

The bill languished in and out of Parliament for the next several years, before being revived and passed just before Christmas in 2013. By then, the death penalty for so-called “aggravated homosexuality” has been removed and replaced with a life sentence (as though spending a lifetime in the notorious Luzira prison were any better). But other criminal sanctions remained in what soon became Anti-Homosexuality Act when Museveni signed it into law on February 24, 2014. The law remained in effect until August 1, when it was annulled by Uganda’s Constitutional Court, which faulted Parliament for passing the bill into law without a proper quorum. The bill’s sponsors have vowed to reintroduce it back into Parliament for another vote.

You can see BTB’s extensive coverage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill here.

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?

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