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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.

Did SCOTUS just bless heightened scrutiny?

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2014

When Idaho presented its brief explaining why the Ninth Circuit’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, it focused on one point. Rather than argue the same tired arguments that have lost across the country and which were insufficient to merit certiorari in the Fourth, Seventh, and Tenth Circuits, Idaho argued that it was the reasoning used in the Ninth, rather than it’s conclusion, which should be reconsidered.

On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit included in its ruling:

Without the benefit of our decision in SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Labs., 740 F.3d 471 (9th Cir. 2014), reh’g en banc denied, 759 F.3d 990 (9th Cir. 2014), the Sevcik district court applied rational basis review and upheld Nevada’s laws. Sevcik v. Sandoval, 911 F. Supp. 2d 996 (D. Nev. 2012). After we decided SmithKline, the Latta district court concluded that heightened scrutiny applied to Idaho’s laws because they discriminated based on sexual orientation, and invalidated them. Latta v. Otter, No. 1:13-CV-00482-CWD, 2014 WL 1909999, at *14–18 (D. Idaho May 13, 2014). We hold that the Idaho and Nevada laws at issue violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment because they deny lesbians and gays who wish to marry persons of the same sex a right they afford to individuals who wish to marry persons of the opposite sex, and do not satisfy the heightened scrutiny standard we adopted in SmithKline.

When the Ninth Circuit decided SmithKline, Abbott Labs chose not to appeal the ruling, specifically because it was their wish to leave the section on heightened scrutiny as precedent and not subject it to potential loss at the Supreme Court. So this assertion by the Ninth has not been considered by the higher court.

Which brings the denial of extended stay by the Supreme Court into a different light. It may be that SCOTUS did not predict any likelihood of Idaho’s ban being upheld irrespective of the degree of scrutiny. Or it may mean that SCOTUS sees no likelihood of the Ninth’s application of heightened scrutiny being reversed.

Meanwhile in Arizona

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2014

From AZCentral.com

U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick issued an order Thursday night stating he believes this week’s appellate court ruling that declared Idaho and Nevada’s marriage restrictions unconstitutional applies to Arizona as well. The U.S District Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said Tuesday that Idaho and Nevada’s marriage restrictions violated couples’ rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Sedwick, an Alaska judge who often helps pick up Arizona cases, gave the parties in two lawsuits challenging Arizona’s law until Thursday to file briefs arguing how the 9th Circuit decision does or does not apply.


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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.

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?

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).

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The Daily Agenda for Sunday, October 12

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Ashland, OR; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD (Black Pride); Medford, OR; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Louisville, KY; Tucson, AZ.

Other Events This Weekend: Iris Prize Film Festival, Cardiff, UK; MIX Copenhagen Film Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark; Octobearfest, Denver, CO; Ft. Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; QCinema LGBT Film Festival, Ft. Worth, TX; Black and Blue Festival, Montréal, QC; Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Seattle, WA.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From theMichelle International drag pageant souvenir program, San Francisco, November 1962. (Source.)

From theMichelle International drag pageant souvenir program, San Francisco, November 1962. (Source.)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Special Police Squad Groomed to Target Gay Men: 1961. Gay bars were treacherous places. They were, for most patrons, the only place where they could socialize, but they couldn’t socialize freely. You always had to be on your guard. If you were to see someone you liked, and you struck up a conversation and felt that certain chemistry, and if he put his hand on your knee and you took that as an opening to invite him to your place, that invitation to an undercover agent in California would lead to a raid and the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Department (ABC) revoking the bar’s license.

Things used to be easier for the ABC. There was a time when all they had to do to shut a bar down was to demonstrate that the patrons were mainly gay. But the state Supreme Court ruled in 1951 that the ABC had to provide evidence that there were “offensive and disorderly acts” taking place (see Aug 28). And so the ABC deployed undercover agents to dig up that evidence, which often consisted of nothing more than an invitation to retire elsewhere — or accepting such an invitation from an agent. Those agents were particularly aggressive in San Francisco, so much so that they became fairly well known. Their covers mostly blown, the ABC turned to the San Francisco police department, which was already happily conducting raids on gay bars on its own (see Aug 13). A report by the San Francisco Examiner revealed that the ABC agreed to train handsome young officers who were new to the force (and were therefore not well known) “on what to look for, and how to act and dress” while undercover. The Examiner reported that the joint operation was showing results, with charges field against three more “alleged ‘gay’ bars.”

The accusations, base d largely on observations and experiences of undercover policemen, were filed by the ABC against the Hideaway, 438 Eddy St.; the Jumping Frog, 2111 Polk St., and Cal’s Tavern, 782 O’Farrell St.

Norbert Falvey, ABC supervisor here, said city policemen are being used because “our manpower is limited, and our State liquor agents here are known.”

Falvey said the liaison and joint “attrition” by his department and Police Chief Thomas Cahill is showing results, with the number of “gay” bars decreasing. Last year, there were 30 such establishments here. That number now has dropped to 18, with 15 license revocation proceedings pending, Falvey said.

The timing of The Examiner’s article hit a particular nerve, as San Francisco was experiencing a wave of robberies and assaults on the Muni system, including one horrific murder the previous April. The mayor ordered the Chief Cahill to step up patrols, but the chief said he was short of personnel. Letters poured in to The Examiner’s editor from concerned citizens complaining about the department’s skewed priorities. One letter writer, protesting that while he would never himself go into a gay bar, denounced “these Gestapo-like tactics (as) inimical to the American way of life, an infringement on the basic constitutional rights of every citizen to free assembly and free speech.” A mother of four teenagers said that she “would rather have my children protected on Muni buses than from the dangers in bars where they would never go in the first place.” And a doctor, recalling the murder on the “J” line in April, asked:

If the present attempts to revoke licenses are a success, then the closing of gay bars will be synonymous with a great increase in contacts with teen-agers in the streets by evicted homosexuals resulting in more muggings, extortion and other types of brutality a la “J” line. Are law-enforcement agencies not exchanging one evil for a far more serious one?”

[Source: Ernest Lenn. "Revoking Evidence Sought: Special Cops for 'Gay' Bars." The San Fransisco Examiner (October 12, 1961). As reprinted with accompanying unsigned commentary in The Mattachine Review 7, no 11 (November 1961): 4-8.]

Matthew Shephard Died: 1998. For a week Matthew Shepard’s family had been maintaining a vigil at his bedside as he lay in a coma following a brutal assault at an open field outside of Laramie, Wyoming (see Oct 6). He suffered fractures from the back of his head to the front of his right ear from being pistol-whipped by a 357-Magnum more than twenty times. He had severe brain stem damage which affected his body’s ability to control heart rate, breathing, temperature, and other involuntary functions. There were lacerations around his head, face and neck. He had welts on his back and arm, and bruised knees and groin. He had also suffered from hypothermia. His injuries were too severe for doctors to operate. They did however insert a drain into Matthew’s skull to relieve the pressure on his brain. Finally, the Poudre Valley Hospital’s CEO Rulon Stacey released this medical update during a hastily called press conference at 4:30 a.m.:

At 12 midnight on Monday, October 12, Matthew Shepard’s blood pressure began to drop. We immediately notified his family who were already at the hospital. At 12:53 a.m. Matthew Shepard died, his family was at his bedside.

Matthew arrived at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, October 7, in critical condition. Matthew remained in critical condition during his entire stay at Poudre Valley Hospital. During his stay, efforts to improve his condition proved to no avail. Matthew died while on full life support measures.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Michael Sandy: 1977-2006. He would have turned thirty-six years old today if it hadn’t been for the fact that on October 8, 2006. he was lured to a secluded Plumb Beach in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn by four others who he met in an AOL chat room. When he arrived at the beach, the four pulled him out of his car and assaulted him. When he tried to escape, they chased him toward a busy freeway while he tried to call for help on his cell phone. They caught up with him at a guardrail. One of them pushed him over the guard rail and into the right lane, and punched him again. He fell back into the middle lane and was struck by an SUV. His attackers then dragged him back to the side of the road, where one of them riffled through his pockets before they fled.

Sandy was taken to Brookdale Hospital and put on a respirator. He remained on life support for five days without regaining consciousness. He died on October 13, just one day after his twenty-ninth birthday, after his family decided to remove life support.

The police investigation showed that the four selected Sandy because he was gay, believing that a gay man would hesitate to resist or call the police. Gary Timmins, 17, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery with a hate crime enhancement. As part of his plea agreement, he testified against his friends in exchange for a four-year prison sentence. John Fox, 20, who posed as a gay man in the chat room, was found guilty of manslaughter and first degree attempted robbery, both as hate crimes. He was was sentenced to between 13 and 21 years in prison. Anthony Fortunato, 21, tried to avoid the hate crime enhancement by claiming he was gay himself. He was the one who initiated contact with Sandy in the Internet chat room. He was convicted of manslaughter and petty larceny, and was sentenced to 7 to 21 years. Ilya Shurov, 21, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and attempted robbery as hate crimes. He was the one who pulled Sandy out of his car, punched him, and led the chase onto the freeway. He also went through Sandy’s pockets at the side of the freeway. Before accepting his plea deal, he had been charged with felony murder as a hate crime and was facing a life sentence. He was sentenced to 17½ years.

Before the sentences were handed down, Sandy’s father, Zeke Sandy, stood up in court and said, “These hate crimes become a cancer; it’s a disease. I don’t know why we have to go butcher one another because we don’t like what they are, who they are.” Despite the police and prosecutor’s determination that this was a hate crime, Michael Sandy’s high-profile death was not included in the FBI’s 2006 hate crimes statistics.

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?

The Daily Agenda for Saturday, October 11

Jim Burroway

October 11th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
National Coming Out Day: Everywhere. Today is the twenty-fifth annual National Coming Out day. The date was chosen to commemorate the second March on Washington, which drew some half a million LGBT people and their supporters to the nation’s capital (see below), That march inspired the blossoming of a number of LGBT advocacy groups around the country. Among them was a group of 100 LGBT advocates who, four months later, gathered in the D.C. suburb of Manassas, Virginia, to figure out how to ensure that the energy from that March didn’t just dissipate into thin air. Dr. Robert Eichberg, an author and psychologist from New Mexico, and Los Angeles LGBT advocate Jean O’Leary, hit on the idea of a national day to celebrate those who came out and to encourage others to begin to take their first steps toward visibility. As Dr. Eichberg later explained:

Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes.”

The first National Coming Out Day was on October 11, 1988, the first anniversary of the second March on Washington, and it quickly expanded to all fifty states.  Is there anyone you still need to come out to?

Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Ashland, OR; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD (Black Pride); Ft. Meyers, FL; Medford, OR; Oceanside, CA; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA.

AIDS Walks This Weekend: Louisville, KY; Tucson, AZ.

Other Events This Weekend: Iris Prize Film Festival, Cardiff, UK; MIX Copenhagen Film Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark; Octobearfest, Denver, CO; Ft. Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; QCinema LGBT Film Festival, Ft. Worth, TX; Key West Bear Fest, Key West, FL; Black and Blue Festival, Montréal, QC; Castro Street Fair, San Francisco, CA; Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Seattle, WA; Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Tampa, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Gay Milwaukee, November 1975, page 3.

From G-Milwaukee, November 1975, page 3.

Green Bay’s Roxy Lounge appears to have operated between 1974 and 1978. That’s just about all the information I can find about it. If Google Maps is accurate, it looks like the entire area near the Fox River waterfront has been re-developed and that particular section of Pine Street was closed off and replaced with this monstrosity.

ECHO ’64 conference program. (via Frank Kamey’s papers)

TODAY IN HISTORY:
50 YEARS AGO: Future Ex-Gay Leader Speaks At Gay Rights Conference: 1964. The day before, the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) kicked off a pivotal two-day conference in Washington, D.C. which would lay the groundwork for a much more confrontational style of gay rights advocacy than had ever been seen before (see Oct 10). In prior pro-gay gatherings, gay rights organizations used to portray themselves as “impartial” and “reasonable” by inviting speakers from “both sides” of an issue. This meant that attendees often had to endure talks and panel discussions featuring lawyers, mental health professionals and religious leaders explaining that gay people were criminal, sick, or sinful. By 1964, this practice had come to an end. Mostly.

There was, however, one throwback to earlier days on the second day of the ECHO conference when six clergymen were invited to participate in a panel discussion titled “Alienation of the Homosexual from the Religious Community.” This issue, as big a deal as it is today for many gay people, was a much bigger issue in 1964 when Americans, including gay Americans, were much more religiously-observant. Panel members were Rabbi Eugene Lipman of Washington, D.C.’s progressive Temple Sinai, Rev. Berkley Hawthorn of the similarly progressive Foundry Methodist Church, Rev. Ernest Martin of the (again, progressive) Swedenborgian Church of the Holy City, Rev. Kenneth Marshall of the (obviously progressive) Davies Memorial Unitarian Church, Rev. Robert J. Lewis of the (ditto) River Road Unitarian Church, and Father John F. Harvey, who was then teaching Moral Theology at DeSales Hall High School and who stuck out like a sore thumb among the other panelists. Everyone else discussed the ostracization that many gay people feel in their churches and temple, and provided suggestions for congregations and gay people on how to address the problem. But according to the write-up in the Daughter of Bilitis’s newsletter The Ladder, Halvey characterized that alienation as an inherent feature of homosexuality:

Father John F. Harvey (Catholic), Instructor in Moral Theology at DeSales Hall, Hyattsville, Md., claimed the homosexual is alienated not only from the church, but also from the secular community, from family, and from self. From adolescence, the homosexual knows he “should be attracted by the opposite sex.” He assimilates society’s scorn and becomes “filled with revulsion toward himself.” Later, “supported by homosexual literature and friends … conscience all the while being smothered,” he withdraws further. Hopelessness often tempts him to suicide or alcohol. He feels hostile toward the church. Alienation is furthered by his bitterness toward God Who allows a “mystery of suffering” and by the harsh attitude of many clergymen. Father Harvey urged that the homosexual accept himself and seek spiritual guidance to devise a life plan (excluding marriage, since conversion to heterosexuality is rarely possible) of service to the community and to God. Ageing homosexuals might reveal their condition to demonstrate “that they led Christian 11ves despite their deviate impulses.” Father Harvey advised the Homosexual should “re-direct (his) will to supernatural values …love of God must be the driving force.”

Rabbi Lipman acknowledged that his congregation ran a referral service to direct gay people to psychiatrists and other therapists with “goal one (as) heterosexuality.” He added that the second goal, if the first cannot be achieved, would be “to accept happy homosexuality. … I don’t consider the second one a defeat, but I consider it second.” Halvey asked about the chances of success for reorientation therapy. Lipman replied “The old saw that homosexuality is the hardest of the emotional problems to do much about is true … So far nobody appears to know what succeeds and what doesn’t. The formulas aren’t here yet.” Harvey agreed with that assessment.

When the panel moderator asked, “In the eyes of the churches, does a person have the right to practice homosexuality?”, all of the panelists, save one, gave varying shades of affirmative answers:

Father Harvey gave the only categorical “no,” since to the Catholic Church homosexual acts are immoral. Nevertheless, he said, many Catholics feel these acts should not be illegal because “the prosecution and the way it takes place in many instances is a great abuse.”

In 1980, Harvey founded Courage, the Roman Catholic ex-gay organization, and headed the group until 2008. Under Harvey’s leadership, Courage’s approach to reorientation was somewhat confused. Officially, the group promoted celibacy as the primary legitimate goal for gay and lesbian Catholics while downplaying the prospect for change in sexual orientation, although there was some fudging here and there. Harvey also relied heavily on theories from the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) whenever he wrote about what he believed were the causes of homosexuality. Since Harvey’s death in 2010, Courage has been slowly drifting toward the change model.

[Source: Lily Hansen, Barbara Gittings. "ECHO Report '64, Part 2: Highlights of ECHO." The Ladder 9, no. 4 (January 1965): 7-11, 15-20. See Jul 31 for Barbara Gittings's bio.]

50 YEARS AGO: American Nazi Party Member Tries to Disrupt ECHO Conference: 1964. As if the 1964 Conference of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) in Washington, D.C., wasn’t already fascinating enough (see above and Oct 10), a couple of other things happened which everyone would remember for years to come. Staff at the Sheraton Park Hotel learned that members of the American Nazi Party planned to disrupt the conference, so the hotel requested additional protection from Washington police. So when the conference began, ECHO leaders actually felt reassured when police arrived, although they were surprised to see a plainclothes officer from the department’s Morals Division. As the Daughters of Bilitis’s The Ladder informed its readers:

A handsome chap moving among many handsome chaps, he might have gone through the conference unnoticed, but for the sharp memory of a Washington Mattachine member. This member reportedly looked the plainclothesman in the eye and said in effect “I know who you are.” Shorn of his cover, undercover officer Graham phoned his boss at the Morals Division to say he’d been recognized and what should he do? “Continue on assignment” was his order — and continue he did, staying for the entire ECHO conference.

The word spread about Graham’s presence, and he became a curiosity, Why was he there, if not to memorize faces? Despite suspicion of the motives of the plainclothesman, many ECHO registrants went out of their way to talk hospitably with him and to discuss the speeches, Here, some thought, was an educating job to be done. Officer Graham was a captive listener, sitting politely among homosexuals and friends of homosexuals and hearing speakers denounce our absurd sex laws and the peculiar tactics our police resort to in trying to enforce them.

Everything went well on the conference’s first day, although unidentified Nazis continued to call the ECHO suite to warn of disruptions. That attempted disruption came the next day, at about 2:30 that afternoon when attendees were waiting for the religion panel to begin. Now, if this were to happen today, it would be captured on camera phones and posted to YouTube within minutes. That technology didn’t exist then, but The Ladder provided the next best thing thanks to Kay Lahusen (see Jan 5), who had just turned on a tape recorder to record the panel discussion. With her transcription of that tape, we can now re-enact our own YouTube drama:

Cast, in order of appearance: A Nazi, conference coordinator Bob Belanger (under the pseudonym “Robert King”), Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C. founder Frank Kameny (see May 21)), an unidentified blonde girl, future ex-gay leader Fr. John Harvey (see above), future DoB president Shirley Willer (as “Shirley W”, see Sep 26), and Det. Graham.

Scene: A “blond, good-looking, well-built, quietly dressed” man walked into the room, carrying a large gift-wrapped box marked “Queer Convention.” Two of his cohorts waited outside the door.

And, action:

NAZI: Would somebody call Rabbi Lipman, please? Is Rabbi Lipman in the house? (Rabbi Lipman is one of the clergymen on ECHO’s religious panel. He has not yet arrived.) I’ve got 24 quarts of vaseline here to deliver to Rabbi Eugene Lipman. I believe all you queers will be able to make use of it. (He starts toward the inner room, carrying the box. ECHO leaders, moving according to plan, link arms in the CORE fashion and stop him from going further. Others join the line. A crowd gathers. The line begins to inch forward.)

ROBERT KING: You must either pay an admission or get out. You are trespassing. (Plainclothes officer Graham leaves the room to telephone police officers specifically stationed in the hotel to protect ECHO from the Nazis.)

NAZI: Would you quit pushing me, you queers… I see you’ve got queer rabbis and priests and reverends and everything here today… Would somebody please bring the queer Rabbi here for me to deliver this vaseline to him? (He smiles, partly turns, digs in his heels, presses back against the line.) The Rabbi’s waiting for his vaseline… Are there any lesbians here? (A blonde girl joins the line.) Are you a lesbian too?

BLONDE GIRL: As much as you are!

NAZI: If you queers don’t stop pushing me I’m going to charge you with assault.

FATHER HARVEY: Sir, you are trespassing. Would you please leave? (Father Harvey is one of the religious panel members.)

NAZI: Sir, would you like some vaseline too? This vaseline is for the rabbi, but I’m sure he wouldn’t mind sharing it with his cassock friends.

DR. KAMENY: You are being asked to leave.

ROBERT KING: The authorities are on the way.

NAZI: I’m only a delivery boy. I had to leave church today in order to bring this vaseline over to you queers. (He pushes back against the line, continues to smile.)

SHIRLEY W.: Sir, you’re stepping on my foot. Would you please move.

NAZI: I believe you’re trying to kick me, aren’t you, lesbian?… There’s a queer for LBJ. He looks like a kike, too. Are there many kike queers here? A dog himself shouldn’t be subjected to you bunch of queers. (A cameraman from WTOP-TV enters and begins filming. The station has apparently been alerted by the publicity-hungry Nazis.)

SHIRLEY W. Please, sir, you’re stepping on my foot. Would you mind leaving?

NAZI: I heard the Rabbi was out of vaseline. Is that right? (Enter plainclothesman Graham. Ironically, he is forced to do the apprehending because the special police sent to prevent a disturbance are too far away at the moment in the huge hotel.)

GRAHAM: I’m a police officer and I want to talk to you alone right now.

NAZI: Do you have some identification?

GRAHAM: Right. (He produces badge.)

NAZI: Am I under arrest?

GRAHAM: No.

NAZI: Well, I have to deliver this case of vaseline to…

GRAHAM: You ARE under arrest. (The Nazi, still hefting the gift-wrapped carton marked QUEER CONVENTION, is escorted out of the ECHO room. Applause breaks out for Graham’s action.)

The Ladder reported that the Nazi — his name was never identified — was booked on a charge of disorderly conduct and ‌fined $10 (about $75 in today’s dollars). The disruption lasted less than five minutes. WTOP decided against showing the film during its news broadcast.

[Sources: Warren D. Adkins, Kay Tobin (Kay Lahusen). "ECHO Report '64, Part 1: Sidelights of ECHO." The Ladder 9, no. 4 (January 1965): 4-7.

Kay Tobin (Kay Lahusen). "ECHO Report '64, Part 3: A Nazi stunt fails." The Ladder 9, no. 4 (January 1965): 20-22.]

AIDS Quilt Debuts During Second March on Washington: 1987. Somewhere around half a million LGBT people descended onto the Mall in Washington for the largest gay rights demonstration in history. The top demands were for an end to discrimination and more federal money for AIDS research and treatment. About a hundred members of Congress and other prominent civic, labor and religious leaders signed letters endorsing the March, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had declared himself a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, spoke and promised to support the gay community. Reps. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Gerry Studds (D-MA), both openly gay members of Congress, also spoke.

With AIDS at the forefront of everyones’ concern, the march marked the public debut of the Names Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. The quilt occupied the equivalent of two city blocks, and included 1,920 panels commemorating more than 2,000 persons who had died of AIDS. Since then, the AIDS Memorial Quilt has become the world’s largest community art project, encompassing 1.3 million square feet and commemorating the lives of over 94,000 people who died of AIDS.

But even the quilt couldn’t break through the national reticence to discuss the epidemic or the concerns of gay people. Despite the enormity of the gatherings, the three national news magazines — Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report — neglected to mention any of it, which longtime advocate Barbara Gittings described as “an appalling example of media blindness.”

 

ACT-Up Occupies the FDA: 1988. The gay community was feeling the pressure of a ticking time bomb, with someone in the U.S. dying of AIDS every two hours. AZT had been approved by the U .S. Food and Drug Administration in 1987, but it was prohibitively expensive and required taking a pill every four hours around the clock. European health officials had been approving new treatments for AIDS, but the FDA continued to cling to its multi-year approval process. And as the FDA dithered, more names were being added to the AIDS quilt. By 1988, frustration and anger had built to a boiling point, and more than a 1,200 demonstrators, led by ACT-Up activists, invaded the FDA’s grounds in Rockville, Maryland, for a nine-hour protest demanding quicker action on drug approvals. About 175 demonstrators were arrested

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, later recalled that the protest had left a deep impression. He later told PBS’s Frontline:

“After a little while, I began to get beyond the rhetoric and theater of the demonstrations and the smoke bombs, to really listen to what it is that they were saying, and it became clear to me, quite quickly, that most of what they said made absolute sense, was very logical and needed to be paid attention to. … Interacting with the constituencies was probably one of the most important things that I had done in my professional career.”

Eight days later, the FDA announced new regulations to cut the time it took to approve new drugs for treating HIV/AIDS.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Jerome Robbins: 1918-1998. Born Wilson Rabinowitz, the Broadway producer, director and choreographer’s career in show business began soon after dropping out of New York University, where he had been studying chemistry, in order to pursue dance. Just a couple of years later, he was already dancing the chorus of several Broadway shows, including George Balanchine’s Keep Off the Grass. In 1940, he left the theater in favor of ballet, but soon returned to choreograph 1944′s On the Town (with music by Leonard Bernstein, just one of several collaborative efforts between the two men). In 1947, he won his first Tony Award for Choreography for the Keystone Kops comedy/ballet High Button Shoes.

Through most of the next decade, Robbins continued to choreograph several hit shows, alternating between Broadway and ballet as choreographer for the American Ballet Company and the New York City Ballet. But his career was threatened in 1950 when he was scheduled to appear on Ed Sullivan’s show. The show’s sponsor, Ford Motor Company, forced him to cancel because he had been a member of the Communist Party between 1943 and 1947, joining, like many other Americans, when the U.S. was an ally of the Soviet Union during World War II. He tried to go to the FBI to clear his name, but when Sullivan publicly urged the House Committee on Un-American Activities to subpoena Robins, he fled to Paris for a year.

He returned to the U.S in 1951 to choreograph The Pied Piper, The King and I, and several other classical ballet pieces. But in 1952, the House Un-American Activities committee caught up with him and subpoenaed him to appear. While everyone knew about one of those skeletons in his closet — his Communist Party membership — he also feared that the other skeleton — his homosexuality — would come tumbling out. He not only personified the twinned Red and Lavender Scares of the McCarthy era, but he also harbored a great deal of internalized shame over his Jewish immigrant roots, which he felt made him insufficiently American in other people’s eyes. Years later, he wrote:

”It was my homosexuality I was afraid would be exposed I thought. It was my once having been a Communist that I was afraid would be exposed. None of these. I was & have been — & still have terrible pangs of terror when I feel that my career, work, veneer of accomplishments would be taken away (by HUAC, or by critics) that I panicked & crumbled & returned to that primitive state of terror — the facade of Jerry Robbins would be cracked open, and behind everyone would finally see Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz

Robbins named the person who recruited him into the Communist Party, along with several other actors, playwrights and critics who were party members. Rep. Gordon Scherer (R-OH) congratulated him, saying he “‘was going to see The King and I that very night and would now appreciate it all the more.” Robbins’s career was preserved: he choreographed and/or directed Peter Pan, Bells are Ringing, West Side Story, Gypsy, Funny Girl, and Fiddler on the Roof, and over the course of his career, he won two Academy Awards, four Tony Awards, five Donaldson Awards, two Emmys, the Screen Directors’ Guild Award, and the New York Drama Critics Circle Award. But none of those accomplishments could expiate his guilt over his HUAC testimony. In the mid-1970s, when he spent three weeks at a mental hospital for depression, he described himself as “a Jewish ex-commie fag who had to go into a mental hospital.” He died following a stroke in New York on July 29, 1998.

60 YEARS AGO: Cleve Jones: 1954. How appropriate is it that today would also happen to be Cleve Jones’s birthday? Born in West Lafayette, Indiana and reared in Scottsdale, Arizona, he moved to San Francisco to study political science at San Francisco State University where he also became an intern for Harvey Milk’s political campaigns and became active in the city’s gay rights scene. Years later, Jones recalled what a heady time that was:

I think what was most exciting was that it was all brand-new. All of us who were participating in it were doing so with an awareness that what we were doing had never been done before. So many of the things that people take for granted now, like gay marching bands and pride parades and gay churches and gay synagogues and gay newspapers and gay film festivals — I remember when the first of each of those happened. There was a wonderful sort of self-awareness among everyone that what we were doing had never been seen before.

It was a political revolution; it was a social revolution; it was a sexual revolution. For those of us who were part of it, there was a wonderful sense of self-discovery, because I think I’m a member of the last generation [of] people who spent our childhood thinking we were the only ones. That doesn’t happen anymore. But when I was a child I thought I was the only one, and so when I discovered that I was not the only one, that there were thousands upon thousands of people just like me, it was incredibly liberating and exhilarating.

Jones learned his gay activism chops from Milk, who gave him his first bullhorn. “When he got elected to public office, he said: ‘You keep people on the street. I’ll be working on the inside; you keep them screaming on the outside, and we’ll get more done.’” But the next several years were traumatic. First, there was Milk’s 1978 assassination (see Nov 27), then there were people coming down with all sorts of illnesses. “I have memories from 1978 and 1979 of friends of mine contracting diseases that I’d never heard of, or that I’d heard of but only in the context of impoverished countries. I remember a friend came down with meningitis, and that seemed to me to be odd. There was also quite a bit of hepatitis going around.” Then the CDC became aware of what was going on in 1981 (see Jun 5). “My memory of it, when I think back, it seems like it was just an avalanche. It was like one week we’d never heard of it, and then the next week everybody started to die. Now, I know that’s not really the way it was, and it unfolded a little more slowly than that, but it was so sudden, and people didn’t talk about it. They were too frightened. Even in our community, there was a great deal of cruelty. So people began to vanish.”

Jones decided to try to “fill the vacuum left by the government’s response” by co-founding the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and becoming one of the earliest frontline advocates for people with AIDS in the city. When an antibody test became available and he found out he was HIV-positive, he went public with his diagnosis on CBS’s 60 Minutes. As a result, he received death threats and was nearly killed when he was attacked with a knife. Jones then determined that one of the keys to making an apathetic public pay attention the the epidemic was to humanize the problem. And so during a candlelight memorial for Harvey Milk in 1986, Jones came up with the idea for an AIDS memorial quilt. He had learned that 1,000 San Franciscans had died of the disease, he asked fellow marchers to write the names of friends and loved ones onto placards that were taped onto the wall of the Federal Building. That patchwork of names that reminded him of his grandmother’s quilts. He established the Names Project Foundation which debuted the AIDS Memorial Quilt during the second march on Washington for gay rights (see above).

Jones currently lives in San Francisco, where he works as a community organizer for UNITE HERE, an international union representing hotel, casino, food service and restaurant workers. He is also serves as an adviser for the Courage Campaign and is on the advisory board for the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

Matt Bomer: 1977. “When I was in high school, there was no safe haven, there was no outlet for you to speak your mind. So I did what any self-preserving 14-year-old would do -— I signed up for the school play and also the football team to cover my tracks.” That’s how White Collar star Matt Bomer recently described his high school years in Klein, Texas, outside of Houston. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 2001 with a degree in Fine Arts, Bomer moved to New York City where he landed a small role on All My Children, followed by a three year stint on Guiding Light. Since 2009, he has played the lead role of Neal Caffrey on USA Network’s White Collar.

In 2011, Bomer joined John Lithgow, Morgan Freeman, and many other prominent actors for an all-star world premiere of Dustin Lance Black’s new play “8″, and in 2012, Bomer got to shake his money-maker for the Steven Soderbergh film Magic Mike with Matthew McConaughey and Channing Tatum. He had long been the subject of rumors about his personal life, and his approach to the subject was to neither confirm nor deny. But in February 2012, Bomer finally decided to uncover his tracks when he thanked his partner and their three children during an acceptance speech for a Steve Chase Humanitarian Award.

This year, he appeared in HBO’s adaption of Larry Kramer’s A Normal Heart, for which he earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. Bomer has also been tapped to play actor Montgomery Clift in a new indie biopic which may start shooting in 2015.

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

North Carolina marriage ban struck down – UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2014

marriage 2014

From WYFF4:

A federal judge in North Carolina has struck down the state’s gay marriage ban, opening the way for the first same-sex weddings in the state to begin immediately.

U.S. District Court Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., in Asheville issued a ruling Friday shortly after 5 p.m. declaring the ban approved by state voters in 2012 unconstitutional.

Which brings the total to 29 plus the district of Columbia.

UPDATE –

The ruling may only apply to two counties. This is NOT the case that everyone has been watching, the one in which the GOP is seeking to fight the Fourth Circuit’s ruling.

This is a case brought by the United Church of Christ which argued that denying their ability to perform same-sex marriages was a violation of their religious freedom.

UPDATE –

For now, it looks like the ruling applies to the whole state.

Kennedy lifts Idaho stay

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2014

marriage 2014

Dark Purple – states with marriage equality
Light Purple – states in which the circuit court has ruled same-sex marriage bans to be a violation of the US Constitution

On Wednesday, Justice Kennedy temporarily stayed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling overturning Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriages. He allowed Governor Butch Otter time to submit reasoning on why a permanent stay should be applied while the Butch Otter appealed the Ninth’s decision to the Ninth en banc, to the Supreme Court, or to the almighty power of an angry and avenging deity.

The Butch Otter argued that the Ninth incorrectly applied heightened scrutiny and that Baker v. Nelson holds precedent and that he damn well didn’t like the ruling.

Kennedy said, “Meh”. The temporary stay has been lifted. Marriage equality comes to Idaho.

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