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Hearing on Florida marriage lawsuit today

Timothy Kincaid

July 2nd, 2014

New Times

Eleventh Judicial Court Judge Sarah Zabel will preside over the case of Pareto v. Ruvin in a hearing scheduled for 4 Wednesday afternoon.

The suit looks to overturn Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage, which was added to the state constitution in 2008. According to Equality Florida, the six couples’ motion asserts that Florida’s marriage ban cannot stand in light of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” violates the federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

Florida Equality is livetweeting

Burger King adds new item

Timothy Kincaid

July 2nd, 2014

Over the weekend, Burger King added a new menu item to its Market Street location in San Francisco, coincident with the city’s Gay Pride. They prepared a video of the response:

YouTube Preview Image

World Congress of Families To Meet in Utah for 2015

Jim Burroway

July 2nd, 2014

The World Congress of Families, a project of the Rockford, Illinois-based Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society and an officially designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has announced that it will be holding its 2015 Congress in Salt Lake City:

The World Congress of Families is to be held at the Little America and Grand America hotels in late October 2015. It’s an event that could attract a couple of thousand people, said Paul Mero, president of the Sutherland Institute, a Utah conservative think tank that is hosting the gathering.

Mero, who serves on the congress’ management committee and used to work for The Howard Center for Family Religion and Society, which founded the Congress, said Salt Lake City is the perfect place for the conference.

“I think there’s no better locale more focused on family as the fundamental unit of society than Utah,” Mero said. “I think Utah is exceptional in faith, family and in freedom.”

I am so there! Anyone with me?

The World Congress of Families typically holds its Congresses outside of the United States with the aim of exporting anti-gay rhetoric and other socially-conservative ideas to other countries. This year’s Congress, scheduled to take place in Moscow, was “suspended for the time being” after Russia invaded the Crimea. Not so much because WCF was dumbfounded that Russia would violate human rights on such a massive scale, but because U.S. and European Union sanctions “has raised questions about travel, logistics, and other matters necessary to plan WCF VIII .” The fact that WCF and its partners were happy to heap praise on Russian President Vladimir Putin for passing its so-called “homosexual propaganda” law should tell you everything you need to know about the WCF’s concerns over human rights.

They Didn’t Know What They Were Up Against

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2014
YouTube Preview Image

A group of Christians protesters tried to disrupt the start of Seattle’s gay pride parade last Sunday. They tried to invoke the power of Jesus Christ, but they failed to take into account the power of Mama Tits:

MamaTits“I saw them coming up the road pre-Parade and looked at Sylvia and DonnaTella and said, ‘Ladies, let’s make a wall!’ Before I knew it, I was standing tits to nose with the leader guy on the megaphone. It felt like I had the strength of all the people who had ever been hurt by these people standing right behind be me giving me power! I was almost in auto-pilot mode from my days as a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence. I planted myself in his path and wouldn’t move. When he walked around me, I got back in front of him again and again.I stared him in the eyes and could see the pain in his eyes, I could see he was scared and he should have been. He tried to hit me with his sign, but like Bianca Del Rio says “Not Today, Satan!”

I pushed his sign away from my face and hair, because you DO NOT TOUCH my hair. And, it was all I could do to NOT get violent, but I didn’t because once that happens, we all lose. They tried to surround me in an intimidation tactic, but let’s face it, I’m fucking HUGE and it didn’t work at all! The police came to me and asked to let them pass, and told me not to let them get me upset. I told the cops I wasn’t upset, but I WILL defend myself when assaulted, and they needed to remove them from our Parade. I then walked over and grabbed my mic and started to get the crowd involved. I wanted them to make so much joyful noise to drown out the hate… and, boy did they ever! The crowd made the walls rattle down on 4th and Pine!

Nevada marriage hearing set

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2014

Reno Gazette-Journal

A federal appeals court says it will consider Nevada’s gay marriage ban on Sept. 8.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has scheduled 20 minutes of oral arguments in the case of Beverly Sevcik v. Brian Sandoval. The court will also hear arguments that morning over similar cases in Idaho and Hawaii.

You may recall that Attorney General Cortez Masto and Governor Sandoval have pulled all state defense of the marriage ban, leaving only the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage to argue the case.

Supreme Court Declines to Review California’s Conversion Therapy Ban

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2014

In other less-talked about Supreme Court news today, the high court declined to hear an appeal challenging California’s ban on sexual orientation change therapy for minors. This leaves in place a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling stating that the state of California had a legitimate interest in banning professional treatments that were considered harmful. As is customary, the Supreme Court didn’t give a reason for declining the appeal.

While California’s converstion therapy ban prohibits licensed professionals from providing change orientation therapy to minors, it does not apply to unlicensed religious-based ex-gay ministries, nor does it prohibit licensed professionals from providing sexual orientation change therapy to adults. Nevertheless, it’s likely to have a serious financial effect on licensed providers. In 2012, Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) which bills itself as the professional arm of the ex-gay movement, admitted that about half of all NARTH clients are teens. NARTH, which had appealed the case to the Supreme Court with the help of Liberty Counsel, has not yet issued a statement responding to the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear their case. Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver issued a statement however that is about as nasty as it gets:

I am deeply saddened for the families we represent and for the thousands of children that our professional clients counsel, many of whom developed these unwanted attractions because of abuse of a pedophile. …These children have been victimized twice –  first by the likes of Jerry Sandusky, and second by legislators and judges who have essentially barged into their private therapy rooms and told them that they must pursue their unwanted and dangerous same-sex sexual attractions and behavior.


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Black, Gay College Wrestler Becomes the Face of HIV Criminalization

Randy Potts

July 8th, 2014
"Tiger Mandingo" on Instagram

“Tiger Mandingo” on Instagram

Steven Thrasher in Buzzfeed reports on a young HIV-positive college student in Missouri, Michael Johnson, who went by the name “Tiger Mandingo” and was arrested last October for

“recklessly infecting another with HIV” and four counts of “attempting to recklessly infect another with HIV,” felonies in the state of Missouri.

Johnson has pleaded not guilty and his case won’t be in court until March of 2015. HIV criminalization is at the center of a politically-charged debate; recently, the AMA adopted a resolution “supporting the modernization of HIV related criminal laws.” Thrasher reports that

Johnson has been incarcerated during a hopeful time for people who believe that, as Medical Director of Corrections Medicine for St. Louis County Department of Health Dr. Fred Rottnek wrote to BuzzFeed, “HIV criminalization does not produce positive health outcomes for individuals or populations.” In May, Iowa modified its laws that criminalize transmitting HIV. This June, the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association adopted a resolution against such laws. Also in June, the Iowa Supreme Court threw out the conviction and lifetime sex-offender status of Nick Rhoades, the subject of a 2013 ProPublica investigation co-published with BuzzFeed.

But Johnson is unlikely to benefit from any of this. He won’t be the poster child for repealing HIV laws. No national groups have taken up his cause. Akil Patterson, the sports advocate, is politically connected in African-American, LGBT, and sports circles. But he said he “can’t get anyone to touch this case with a fucking 10-foot pole.”

And, unlike Rhoades, Johnson is not being charged with having had sex with a condom, nor does he have the benefit (as the judge sentencing Rhoades put it) to not “look like our usual criminals.”

Read the full article, “How College Wrestling Star “Tiger Mandingo” Became An HIV Scapegoat,” here.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 8

Jim Burroway

July 8th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1975, special SF travel section, page 25.

From Northwest Gay Review, May 1975, special SF travel section, page 25.

 
The Rendezvous on San Francisco’s Sutter Street seems to have begun sometime in the 1960s. There are multiple mentions that the Grateful Dead had played there a few times in 1967. The club moved to Polk Street in the 1980s and remained there until it closed in 2005.

Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke. Photo by Kay Lahuse.

Jack Nichols and Lige Clarke. Photo by Kay Lahusen (see Jan 5).

TODAY IN HISTORY:
45 YEARS AGO: First Gay-Authored Account of Sonewall Rebellion Published: 1969. Jack Nichols (see Mar 16) and Lige Clarke had cut their activists’ teeth as members of the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C.. Nichols helped to organize the the first White House protest in 1965 (see Apr 17), while Clarke lettered nine of the ten picket signs. Nichols and Clarke moved to New York in 1968, where the couple became regular columnists for the straight, unabashedly-pornographic Screw magazine. Their column, “The Homosexual Citizen,”  was the first regular LGBT column to appear regularly in a non-LGBT publication, and it made them arguably the most visible gay couple in the country.

Nichols and Clarke devoted their July 8 column to a description of the Stonewall riots, which had occured the week before. “Last week’s riots in Greenwich Village,” they wrote, “have set standards for the rest of the nation’s homosexuals to follow.” They also reported that the Electric Circus, a popular and hip night club, took the unusual step of publicly inviting gay people to dance with their straight patrons on the dance floor. “If you’re tired of raids, Mafia control, and checks at the door, join us for a beautiful evening on Sunday night, July 6.” According to Nichols and Clark, “for the first time in New York’s history, a huge club was experimenting with social integration between heterosexuals and homosexuals.” Nichols and Clarke went, and found “a groovy crowd. … hip moustaches, long hair, and hundreds of handsome young men. The acid-rock band blared forth a medley fo fast tunes.” They found that the Electric Circus’s experiment was successful, mostly, with the exception of one “uncool creep” who was shouting “Goddamn faggots” as he was hustled out of the club. The closed their column with the following “call to arms,” which Nichols later attributed solely to Clarke:

The revolution in Sheridan Square must step beyond its present boundaries. The homosexual revolution is only part of a larger revolution sweeping through all segments of society. We hope that “Gay Power” will not become a call for separation, but for sexual integration, and that the young activists will read, study, and make themselves acquainted with all of the facts that will help them carry the sexual revolt triumphantly into the councils of the U.S. government, into the anti-homosexual churches, into the offices of anti-homosexual psychiatrists, into the city government, and into the state legislatures which make our manner of love-making a crime. It is time to push the homosexual revolution to its logical conclusion. We must crush tyranny wherever it exists and join forces with those who would assist in the utter destruction of the puritanical, repressive, anti-sexual Establishment.

[Sources: Charles Kaiser. The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America 2007 ed. (New York: Grove Press, 2007): 201-202.

James T. Sears. Rebels, Rubyfruit, and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press , 2001) 28-29.]

Austria Decriminalizes Homosexuality: 1971. On July 8, 1971 an amendment to the Austrian criminal code was signed which abolished the criminalization of consensual homosexual contact. Austria’s code had criminalized both male and female same-sex contact under its “crimes against nature” clause. With the new law, male homosexual contacts with a young man under 18, male (same-sex) prostitution, and “advertising” or “encouraging” homosexuality were still criminal after that date. The latter provisions were abolished during the early 1980s to make HIV-prevention easier. The age of consent remained 18 until 2002, when it was held unconstitutional by the Austrian Constitutional Court. It age of consent is now 14 to 16, depending on the age of both parties, and consistent with the age of consent for opposite-sex couples.

Murder Suspect Goes Free Because Gays Fear Coming Out of the Closet: 1977. The Associated Press reported:

(San Francisco) Police say a suspect in 14 homosexual murders has not been charged because three survivors of his knife attacks, including a “well-known entertainer” and a diplomat, won’t “come out of the closet” and testify against him. For the past year, police have been questioning a young man they call “The Doodler” about the 14 slayings and three assaults that occurred in San Francisco’s gay community between January 1974 and September 1975, Inspector Rotea Gilford said Thursday.

Interest in the case surfaced again this week after two Redondo Beach, Calif., men were arrested in Riverside for questioning about as many as 28 slayings linked to homosexual encounters.

The suspect here, his name not released, has talked freely with police but has not admitted the slayings, Gilford said. He said police are “fairly certain” they have the right man, but need the testimony of survivors who may be able to identify “The Doodler.”

In the attacks, the murderer met other men at a number of after-hours gay clubs and restaurants in San Francisco. He usually sketched them men before having sex with them and then stabbing them. Police believe the man committed the murders after feeling shame over his homosexual experiences.

Gilford said the three survivors include the entertainer, the diplomat and a man who left San Francisco and won’t answer letters or phone calls at his new express. “My feeling is that they don’t want to be exposed,” he said.

Harvey Milk, an advocate for homosexual rights, said of the victims who refuse to speak up, “I can understand their position. I respect the pressure society has put on them. Milk said many homosexuals may keep their sexual preference a secret because they fear losing their jobs. “They have to stay in the closet,” he said.

Another spokesman for the gay community, teacher Hank Wilson, said the case represents society’s “double standards” in dealing with crimes involving homosexuals. “You never year about the heterosexual murderer who had killed 12 women after raping them,” he said.

With no witnesses willing to identify him, “The Doodler” was never brought to justice.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
Philip Johnson: 1906-2005. He was only twenty-four years old and fresh out of Harvard when he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He would have been regarded as a great visionary even if that had been his only accomplishment. But Johnson wanted more, and in his travels to Europe he became exposed to such masters of modernism as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier, and Walter Gropius. Johnson’s 1932 MOMA show, “The International Style: Architecture Since 1922,” introduced modern architecture to the American public, and Johnson became an evangelist for the International Style. Johnson’s travels to Europe also exposed him to the early ideology of Hitler’s National Socialism, which Johnson also eagerly embraced. He remained enamored with Nazism until Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland, when he toured that conquered country at Hitler’s invitation. As Johnson later said, “I have no excuse [for] such utter, unbelievable stupidity. … I don’t know how you expiate guilt.”

Philip Johnson’s Glass House

Fortunately for Johnson, there would be a second chapter to his life. After the war, he designed his 1949 masterpiece Glass House as his own private residence in New Canaan, Connecticut. That design put him at the forefront of modernist architecture in America. In the 1950s, he teamed up with his mentor Meis van der Rohe to design the Seagram Building in New York. The steel-and-glass design would define the essential elements of American skyscrapers for the next sixty years. Johnson’s minimalist steel and glass design would also be the defining feature of his Chrystal Cathedral, which he designed for televangelist Robert Schuller in Garden Grove, California (and which was sold sold in a bankruptcy transaction to the Orange County diocese of the Catholic Church in 2011 for $57.5 million. After renovations for liturgical purposes, the building will become Christ Cathedral, the diocese’s official seat.).

From the sublime to the ridiculous: the AT&T Building, 1984.

By the 1980s, Johnson had decided that minimalism had boxed him into a corner, if you will excuse the pun. So in a fit of iconoclasm, he abandoned his minimalist signature by placing a garish Chippendale corbel on top of the AT&T building in New York, thus heralding the utterly lamentable post-modernist geegaws that are the bane of every tacky strip mall in North America. Johnson’s latest design is considerably more redeeming. It is also for the largest LGBT congregation in America, Dallas’s Cathedral of Hope, whose Interfaith Peace Chapel opened to the public in 2010. Johnson didn’t live to see it come to fruition. He died in his sleep at Glass House in 2005, survived by his partner of 45 years.

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 Monday, July 7

Jim Burroway

July 7th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Midnight Rider, July 4, 1980, page 24.

From Midnight Rider, July 4, 1980, page 24.

 
Mary’s of Houston, Texas held a “Get Out of Jail Free” party on Monday, July 7 as an act of defiance against the Houston Police Department, which had raided the bar on June 24. Sue Cummings wrote about the raid the week earlier:

I wrapped up the Wilde ‘n Stein radio show Thursday night with, “I’m off to San Antonio for the State Democratic Convention,” but. .. going home via Westheimer took me past Mary’s. There I saw the police loading bar patrons into a van. The first thing I did was the 100-yard dash to a public phone and 25¢ later KPFT and Ray Hill had the news.

I returned to find Jim Farmer, owner and Grand Marshal of the Gay Pride Week Parade with his hands against the side of the van. There were uniformed officers of the vice squad and also plainclothes policemen trying to pass for gay. Guns tucked in the small of their back, badges at their waist, they had dressed in out-of-date hippie gear. The billy clubs were out as they confiscated leather vests, caps, belts, and wristlets studded with metal and hung with chain.

It was not the Stonewall. All these men with their “deadly weapons” did not resist. They went quietly; some joked to keep the morale up. Two groups of onlookers gathered — one near Montrose Boulevard and the other at Waugh Drive. I asked a young man standing to my left “how many are in the van?” but he didn’t know. He told me they would not let him enter the bar. One by one a policeman placed men in the backseat of a blue cruiser parked on Waugh until there were five. Shortly after that myself, Sharon Taylor, and David, the young man I had spoken with were also arrested.

When Sharon, Officer Krol, and I arrived at the station the men were lined up against a long white wall. We were placed in an office across the hall from Andy Mills, manager and leader of the Montrose Singers, Family, Tavern Guild, etc. A vice officer pokes his head into the office and says, “You mean they have dykes down there too?” Sharon is refused permission to use the bathroom.

From where we sit in the booking room we can see the men being processed. They are brought in from the tank — a dark, crowded cell used for holding — searched, and photographed. Some are ridiculed. Then they are told the amount of their bail. Now I am being frisked. “No purse?” Now I am being booked. “Were you arrested at that place on Westheimer? Don’t you know that’s a queer bar?” Sharon and I are handcuffed for the trip upstairs. But first we pass a sign that says: HPOA EATS CRAP.

6th Floor-Women’s Unit. We are turned over to a policewoman and allowed to use the telephone. It is 4 AM. Then on to cell 7 where a nylon stocking hangs from a steel bar above my head. It is sunrise and we wait for court to begin. Sixty-one people wait for someone to pay their bail. Next year, Sharon suggests, we should put a Gay Pride billboard down by the police station.

Mary’s opened in 1970, and remained in business until 2009. To learn more about Mary’s see April 26.

[Source: Susan Cummings. "The Night They Raided Mary's." Midnight Runner (June 24, 1980): 14.]

Clyde Tolson and J. Edgar Hoover, on vacation.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Hoover’s Homosexuality Denied …Again: 1975. J. Edgar Hoover, the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ 48-year chief, was dogged by rumors of his homosexuality and a suspected longtime affair with his assistant Clyde Tolson, but those rumors were put down as quickly as they arose. When Hoover died in 1972 he left his estate to Tolson, who moved into Hoover’s house. When Tolson died in April of 1975, speculation arose again over what everyone acknowledged as an extraordinarily close relationship with Hoover. In July, the subject came up again on CBS’s “Face the Nation”, according to this UPI article:

Rumors that the late FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was a homosexual “absolutely could not be true,” according to a former top FBI official.

William A. Sullivan, who retired Saturday as assistant FBI director, made the statement in response to a reporter’s question on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Hoover never married and maintained a lifetime friendship with his top assistant, Clyde Tolson, who died earlier this year.

CBS reporter Fred Graham told Sullivan it was “common knowledge that there were allegations that J. Edgar Hoover was a homosexual.”

“I wonder, “Graham asked, “can you tell me if that was investigated by any security agency, and can you tell me whether or not the FBI knows whether or not that’s true — was true?”

Sullivan replied: “I think that that is a — that question there is so ridiculous, about the homosexuality of J. Edgar Hoover, that I will just not give any credit to it, because I think it — it just absolutely cannot be true. I don’t believe.”

Graham: “But are you telling me that it was never checked out?”

Sullivan: “Certainly not. It was not checked out. It was so ridiculous that you could not check out something like that.”

George Cukor, on The Philadelphia Story set with Katharine Hepburn.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
115 YEARS AGO: George Cukor: 1899-1983. A glance through his filmography shows that Hollywood would not have been Hollywood without George Cukor’s directing many of its landmark films with RKO and MGM.  In 1931, he made his solo directorial debut with Paramount with Tarnished Lady starring Tallulah Bankhead, and went on to work on twenty-six films over the next ten years including, notably, A Bill of Divorcement (1932, debuting Katharine Hepburn), Dinner at Eight (1933), Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936), Camille (1936), The Women (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Gaslight (1944), Adam’s Rib (1949), Born Yesterday (1950), A Star is Born (1954), and My Fair Lady(1964). Cukor had been hired by his mentor, David O. Selznick, to direct Gone With The Wind even before the book was published. But Cukor was fired three weeks into filming after expressing dissatisfaction with the script. (A replacement director was also dissatisfied with it and quit, prompting a complete re-write of the film.)

Cukor had a reputation as a “woman’s director” for his ability to coax great performances from his actresses. He hated the title, perhaps seeing it as a dig at his open secret: just about everyone in Hollywood knew he was gay. He luxurious home was host to weekly Sunday afternoon pool parties attended by closeted celebrities and their guests. Hollywood was — and still is — a very small company town, and word had a way of getting around. Producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz said, “In a way, George Cukor was the first great female director of Hollywood.” But the quality of Cukor’s work belied those who dismissed him because he wasn’t a typical macho director. Twenty-one actors and actresses working under Cukor received Oscar nominations; three actors and two actresses came up winners. Cukor himself earned five Best Direction nominations, finally winning an Oscar for My Fair Lady.

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 Sunday, July 6

Jim Burroway

July 6th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Budapest, Hungary; Bristol, UK; Chelmsford, UK; Cologne, Germany;  Madrid, Spain; Prince George, BCSurrey, BC; Victoria, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Family Outfest, Orlando, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), February 17, 1974.

From The Fifth Freedom (Buffalo, NY), February 17, 1974.

 
The Shadows, located on the edge of downtown Buffalo, suffered an suspected arson fire in late June, 1974. According to initial reports in The Fifth Freedom, a Buffalo gay newspaper, “Damage to the building and contents ran to $107,000 and the owners reportedly have no intention to rebuild.” But two weeks later, The Fifth Freedom reported that The Shadows would re-open after all. “One of the most popular bars in the area, appealing most recently to the Lesbian community, The Shadows has been receiving much community support and encouragement as a result of its recent fire. Many of the patrons have been assisting in the massive rebuilding campaign involved in getting it back on its feet. The projected reopening is sometime in early August.” On July 23, The Fifth Freedom announced that the reopening had been pushed back to September and the community was invited to help with the rebuilding. That’s the last mention of the Shadows I’ve found in back issues of The Fifth Freedom, although that may be due to a gap in available newspapers from October through December of 1974. No ads appeared for the Shadows in 1975.

None of the previous ads for the Shadows ever gave a street address. They simply referenced the corner of Delaware and Virginia. Three of the corners of that intersection today are parking lots, while the fourth is occupied by a mid-century office building.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
45 YEARS AGO: “Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees are Stinging Mad”: 1969. Coverage of the Stonewall rebellion in New York’s news media was quite scant. The New York Times buried its first day’s coverage with a very small article on page 33. The New York Daily News placed its first small story on page thirty. But on July 6, the Daily News returned to the subject again to give the story the paper’s trademarked sensationalized treatment:

Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Are Stinging Mad

By JERRY LISKER

She sat there with her legs crossed, the lashes of her mascara-coated eyes beating like the wings of a hummingbird. She was angry. She was so upset she hadn’t bothered to shave. A day old stubble was beginning to push through the pancake makeup. She was a he. A queen of Christopher Street.

Last weekend the queens had turned commandos and stood bra strap to bra strap against an invasion of the helmeted Tactical Patrol Force. The elite police squad had shut down one of their private gay clubs, the Stonewall Inn at 57 Christopher St., in the heart of a three-block homosexual community in Greenwich Village. Queen Power reared its bleached blonde head in revolt. New York City experienced its first homosexual riot. “We may have lost the battle, sweets, but the war is far from over,” lisped an unofficial lady-in-waiting from the court of the Queens.

“We’ve had all we can take from the Gestapo,” the spokesman, or spokeswoman, continued. “We’re putting our foot down once and for all.” The foot wore a spiked heel. According to reports, the Stonewall Inn, a two-story structure with a sand painted brick and opaque glass facade, was a mecca for the homosexual element in the village who wanted nothing but a private little place where they could congregate, drink, dance and do whatever little girls do when they get together.

Girls. Lisping. Queens. Bleached blonde revolt. The mocking, denigrating descriptions carried throughout the article:

Last Friday the privacy of the Stonewall was invaded by police from the First Division. It was a raid. They had a warrant. After two years, police said they had been informed that liquor was being served on the premises. Since the Stonewall was without a license, the place was being closed. It was the law.

All hell broke loose when the police entered the Stonewall. The girls instinctively reached for each other. Others stood frozen, locked in an embrace of fear.

Only a handful of police were on hand for the initial landing in the homosexual beachhead. They ushered the patrons out onto Christopher Street, just off Sheridan Square. A crowd had formed in front of the Stonewall and the customers were greeted with cheers of encouragement from the gallery.

The whole proceeding took on the aura of a homosexual Academy Awards Night. The Queens pranced out to the street blowing kisses and waving to the crowd. A beauty of a specimen named Stella wailed uncontrollably while being led to the sidewalk in front of the Stonewall by a cop. She later confessed that she didn’t protest the manhandling by the officer, it was just that her hair was in curlers and she was afraid her new beau might be in the crowd and spot her. She didn’t want him to see her this way, she wept.

The crowd began to get out of hand, eye witnesses said. Then, without warning, Queen Power exploded with all the fury of a gay atomic bomb. Queens, princesses and ladies-in-waiting began hurling anything they could get their polished, manicured fingernails on. Bobby pins, compacts, curlers, lipstick tubes and other femme fatale missiles were flying in the direction of the cops. The war was on. The lilies of the valley had become carnivorous jungle plants.

The Village Voice, which was supposed to be the more liberal, counter-cultural paper, was only somewhat more considerate in its choice of language when its coverage hit the streets three days earlier (see Jul 3). But at least the Voice’s Lucian Truscott IV was able to capture the riot’s importance: “The forces of faggotry, spurred by a Friday night raid on one of the city’s largest, most popular, and longest lived gay bars, the Stonewall Inn, rallied Saturday night in an unprecedented protest against the raid and continued Sunday night to assert presence, possibility, and pride until the early hours of Monday morning.” Disrespectful language aside, Truscott’s account would become the story of record, while Lisker’s article would be forever remembered for the kind of universal contempt directed toward gay people that gave rise to the rebellion in the first place. Lisker went on to become the sports reporter for the Daily News, New York Post, and Fox Sports. He died in 1993.

Jérôme Duquesnoy (left), Piete, 1654 (right).

Jérôme Duquesnoy (left), Piete, 1654 (right).

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Jérôme Duquesnoy: 1602-1654. The Flemish artist was, in his day, regarded as one of the finest sculptors of the seventeenth century. In 1644, Duquesnoy was commissioned to create statues for the nave of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula in Brussels, and the following year he was appointed “architecte, statuaire et sculpteur de la Cour” to Archduke Leopold William, Regent of the Netherlands. it was during the time where he produced some of his most famous works, many of which depicted strong, muscled male figures in the Hellenic tradition. In 1651, he became Court Architect and Sculptor, and in 1654 he went to Ghent to fulfill several commissions when he was accused of indecencies with his assistants. The Privy Council of Ghent convicted Duquesnoy of sodomy and sentenced him to death. He was bound to a stake in the Grain Market in the center of the city, strangled, and his body reduced to ashes. His reputation was destroyed and his memory repressed. It has only been recently that critical attention has returned to his work.

Merv Griffin

Merv Griffin: 1925-2007. I vividly remember the moment I figured out that Merv Griffin was gay. It was sometime in the mid to late 1970s. I was in high school, off on summer break. I walked into the TV room. No one else was in there, but the TV was turned to The Merv Griffin Show. I think it was a special of some kind — Fourth of July, maybe. There were a bunch of male Polynesian dancers on stage. But these were’t your typical just-off-the-islands Polynesian dancers. These were, like, from the islands of West Hollywood — muscular, buff, defined, hot!. I was transfixed, although I knew I shouldn’t be. The dancers finished their particularly athletic-style of Polynesian dancing and left the stage to a standing ovation from the mostly-older, mostly-female audience. Griffin walked out and started bantering with the ladies in the front row, as he often did. This time, it was about the dancers, about how good they were, about how good-looking they were, about how ohmygod how hot they were. This went on and on and on. It’s like he couldn’t stop talking about them. And that’s when it hit me.

Ohmygodohmogodohmogodohmygod!!!!,” I exclaimed to — thank God — no one in the room. “Merv Griffin is GAY!” Nothing would ever convince me otherwise, not matter how many times he was photographed supposedly canoodling with Eva Gabor.

Like that other famously closeted Las Vegas celebrity Liberace, Merv Griffin entered show business early as a child prodigy on the piano. He started singing on the radio at age 19 in 1944. Avoiding the draft because of a heart murmur, Griffin, earned enough to start his own record label the following year, and began touring. His first hit, a novelty tune called “I’ve Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts” reached number on in 1950.

Merv Griffin, Nancy Reagan

He got a few minor film roles, but found television more to his liking. He hosted a number of game shows from the 50s until the early 60s, when he switched to producing them rather than hosting. He guest hosted the Tonight Show before Johnny Carson took over, then launched his own syndicated talk show in 1965. Griffin would continue to host various talk shows for the next two decades. He was known, and praised by critics, for taking on controversial topics with controversial guests, a trait that got him fired from a talk show gig at CBS in 1969. He was fired on a Friday. He responded the following Monday by hosting a new talk show, produced by Merv Griffin Enterprises, without skipping a beat. Meanwhile, his production company would produced some of the most successful shows on television: Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and Dance Fever. His real estate operations owned the Beverly Hilton, and the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. By 2003, Griffin was a veritable Hollywood mogul, said to be worth around $1.2 billion dollars.

That Appalachian high school kid who saw Merv Griffin gushing over his Polynesian dancers wasn’t the only to figure out that he was gay. Rumors had long circulated about his sexuality. Those rumors burst into the open in 1991, when Dance Fever host Deney Terrio sued him for sexual harassment. That same year, Griffin’s longtime bodyguard, horse trainer and driver Brent Plot filed a $200 million palimony suit. Griffin evaded questions from the press and both suits were ultimately dismissed. Michelangelo Signorile alluded to Griffin in his 1993 book Queer in America, where he described an unnamed Hollywood “Mogul” who fired men from his company for being openly gay.

When Griffin died in 2007, his secret might have died with him. But Ray Richmond’s obituary in the Hollywood Reporter, said everything that needed to be said in the headline: “Merv Griffin Died a Closeted Homosexual.” Reuters then picked it up, as Richmond pondered the legacy that might have been:

Merv Griffin and Eva GaborWhat a powerful message Griffin might have sent had he squired his male companions around town rather than Eva Gabor, his longtime good friend and platonic public pal. Imagine the amount of good Merv could have done as a well-respected, hugely successful, beloved and uncloseted gay man in embodying a positive image. …

If you’re Griffin, why would you think a judgmental culture would be any more tolerant as you grew into middle and old age? Even in the capital of entertainment — in a business where homosexuality isn’t exactly a rare phenomenon — it’s still spoken of in hushed tones or, more often, not at all. And Merv’s brush with tabloid scandal no doubt only drove him further into the closet.

While it would seem everything has changed today, little actually has. You can count on the fingers of one hand, or at most two, the number of high-powered stars, executives and public figures who have come out. Those who don’t can’t really be faulted, as rarely do honesty and full disclosure prove a boon to one’s showbiz livelihood.

But Signorile saw it differently:

merv_griffin_2First off, Griffin’s closet kept him shockingly silent while he had access to the president of the United States as his own people were dying. This man was intimate with the Reagans (and Nancy Reagan in particular) during the height of the AIDS epidemic in 80s, with few treatments available and fear-mongering having gripped the media. …

Secondly, Griffin’s closet had him engaging in workplace sexual harassment, something that, as I showed in my 1993 book Queer in America, is common among closeted powerful men, who often are simply seeking outlets for sex….

Finally, Griffin’s closet had him firing gay men who’d actually made it up through the ranks of his own company, simply because they were openly gay. There is a story in Queer in America about a man identified as “The Mogul” who did just that. I can now reveal that The Mogul is Merv Griffin. Open homosexuality is a threat to the closeted, and powerful people in the closet like Merv Griffin will often do whatever it takes to squash those who are open and who might advocate that all among the powerful should come out.

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The Daily Agenda for Saturday, July 5

Jim Burroway

July 5th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Budapest, Hungary; Bristol, UK; Chelmsford, UK; Cologne, Germany; Lethbridge, AB; Madrid, Spain; Prince George, BC; Sundsvall, Sweden; Surrey, BC; Victoria, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Family Outfest, Orlando, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Parleé, July 1975, page 31.

 
Fire Island was long a refuge for gay people throughout much of the twentieth century. It was a place they could go, away from the oppressive atmosphere of constant harassment, where they could, for the most part, let their guard down. From the 1970s through the early 1990s, the Monster, in Cherry Grove, was one of the more popular spots. The Fire Island branch of the Monster Bar on New York’s Sheridan Square, the Fire Island version featured a clam bar on the top deck with incredible ocean views, and a ground floor disco and bar, and was popular with Fire Island residents and mainlanders alike. It closed sometime in the early 1990s.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
15 YEARS AGO: PFC Barry Winchell Murdered: 1999. He had enlisted in the Army in 1997 and was transferred to Ft. Campbell, Kentucky in 1999 where he was assigned to the 2/502nd Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division. He learned to fire a .50-caliber machine gun so well that he became the best marksman in his company. He hoped one day to become a helicopter pilot, but that dream was cut short, brutally, on July 5, 1999 when he was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat as he was sleeping in his cot in the barracks. Pvt. Calvin Glover, 18, was arrested and charged with Winchell’s murder after admitting to the beating. While in custody, he made several disparaging remarks about blacks and gays to another prisoner.

In fact, there is little reason to believe that PFC Winchell. In the ensuing investigation, Sgt. Eric Dubielak, Winchell’s commanding officer, testified that he knew that Winchell had been experiencing daily harassment from fellow soldiers over rumors of his perceived homosexuality, rumors that had been spread by Winchell’s roommate, Spc. Justin Fisher, when Winchell began dating a transgender woman from Nashville. But Dubielak never intervened, nor did any of the other superior officers who admitted that they were aware of the abuse. “Nothing was done, sir,” said Sgt. Michael Kleifgen, who told of one fruitless effort to complain to the post’s inspector general when a master sergeant referred to Winchell as “that faggot.” But when asked why he himself didn’t order his platoon members to stop harassing Winchell, Kleifgen responded, “Everybody was having fun.” As for Winchell himself, he didn’t lodge a formal complaint, and for good reason. Doing so would have likely put him afoul of the “Don’t Tell” part of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” given his superior officers’ demonstrated inability to distinguish between sexual orientation and gender identity.

Glover was eventually court-martialed and given a lifetime sentence. He is still behind bars. Fisher, who had goaded Glover into attacking Winchell and participated in an attempted cover-up, was sentenced to 12½ years in prison and was released in 2006. But Ft. Campbell’s commanding officer at the time of the murder, Major General Robert T. Clark, refused to take responsibility for the anti-gay/trans climate under his command. Furthermore, the Defense Department under President George W. Bush exonerated Clark of any wrongdoing, and he was promoted to Lieutenant General in 2003. The year 2003 also saw the release of the Peabody Award-winning film for Showtime, Soldier’s Girl, which portrayed the romance between Winchell and Calpernia Addams which led up to Winchell’s murder.

Sylvester Graham

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
220 YEARS AGO: Sylvester Graham: 1794-1851. The guy who invented the graham crackers you loved so much as a kid did it because he was only looking out for your best interests. His namesake invention was designed to keep you from masturbating. It obviously didn’t work. I can tell just by looking at you:

This general mental decay continues with the continued abuses, till the wretched transgressor sinks into a miserable fatuity, and finally becomes a confirmed and degraded idiot, whose deeply sunken and vacant glassy eye, and livid, shriveled countenance, and ulcerous, toothless gums, and fetid breath, and feeble broken voice, and emaciated and dwarfish and crooked body, and almost hairless head—covered, perhaps, with suppurating blisters and running sores — denote a premature old age — a blighted body — and a ruined soul! — and he drags out the remnant of his loathsome existence, in exclusive devotion to his horridly abominable sensuality.

And…

The sight becomes feeble, obscure, cloudy, confused, and often is entirely lost — and utter blindness fills the rest of life with darkness and unavailing regret.

Besides the whole wanking-is-bad thing, most of Sylvester Graham’s then-radical ideas would barely merit a shrug among the Birkenstock-clad, hemp bag-toting shoppers at Trader Joe’s. Organic foods? Check. Exercise freak? Check. Vegetarianism? Why, he helped to found the American Vegetarian Society in 1850. He also advocated frequent bathing and daily tooth-brushing — all fundamental components of hygiene today but very rare practices in the early part of the nineteenth century. Other crazy ideas included fresh air, clean drinking water, and fresh home-grown fruits and vegetables. Given how commonplace these ideas are today, it’s hard to imagine how dangerous the people of New England saw Graham’s teaching back then.

Graham was born in Suffield, Connecticut, the seventeenth child of a minister. He was ill during most of his young life, which may be why he had such a driving passion to discover the secrets of good health. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1826, but decided to become a clergymen-physician at a time when a lack of medical training wasn’t much of an impediment to entering the profession. At about that time, he came to believe — with good reason — that bakers were poisoning the general public by using finely ground processed flour which was bleached with alum and chlorine, a common practice to make bread whiter in color, and therefore more appealing to a growing middle class who came to regard darker shades of bread suitable only for country rubes. White bread — and the softer the better — became a status symbol, and the complicated processes for making it meant that it was no longer homemade, but purchased from a baker.

In 1829, Graham invented what came to be known as Graham bread, a firm dark bread using unsifted course-ground flour, which he regarded as much healthier than the commercially-bought white bread. He also urged his followers to avoid meat, spices, coffee, tea, and alcohol. He argued that there was a strong link between diet and overall health, which is true, although it was a radical idea at the time. But he went further, drawing a strong link between diet and morality. For example, spicy foods might lead to a spicy temperament, leaving one open to the temptations of drinking, gambling, prostitution, and venereal excesses, especially self-pollution, as it was called in his day:

Among the causes of extensive and excessive self-pollution, at such places and elsewhere, as I have already stated, the most important ones are—

1. Improper diet — the free use of flesh, with more or less of stimulating seasonings and condiments, together with coffee, tea, rich pastry, and compounded and concentrated forms of food; and too often, chewing and smoking tobacco, and drinking wine and other intoxicating liquors; — all of which unduly stimulate and irritate the nervous system, heat the blood, and early develope a preternatural sensibility and prurience of the genital organs.

2. Excesses in quantity of aliment. …Subsisting as most children do, on a variety of dishes, variously and often viciously prepared — too generally warm, and requiring little mastication, they are sure to eat too rapidly, and swallow, in a very imperfectly masticated condition, far too great a quantity of food. This not only produces permanent injury in the digestive organs, but the whole constitution is much impaired by it, and the sexual appetite rapidly developed and strengthened.

3. A want of proper exercise to promote the equal distribution of the blood, and develope and invigorate the several organs and parts of the system, and firmly establish the healthy condition and conduct of the constitution. Their sedentary and inactive, and too generally indolent habits, lead to sluggishness of capillary circulation, and an undue detention of blood in the vessels of the abdomen and lower parts of the body, including the genital organs; by which means the parts become heated and debilitated, and thus again, a preternatural sensibility and excitability are augmented in the organs of generation…

There’s more, but you get the drift. Following his advice would save children from growing up “with a body full of disease, and with a mind in ruins, the loathsome habit still tyrannizing over him, with the inexorable imperiousness of a fiend of darkness.” Of all of the sexual excesses, Graham regarded masturbation as the worst. But he considered as dangerous any sexual act undertaken more often than necessary because of the “violent paroxysms” that accompanied an orgasm:

The convulsive paroxysms attending venereal indulgence, are connected with the most intense excitement, and cause the most powerful agitation to the whole system that it is ever subject to. The brain, stomach, heart, lungs, liver, skin, and the other organs, feel it sweeping over them with the tremendous violence of a tornado. The powerfully excited and convulsed heart drives the blood, in fearful congestion, to the principal viscera, producing oppression, irritation, debility, rupture, inflammation, and sometimes disorganization; — and this violent paroxysm is generally succeeded by great exhaustion, relaxation. These excesses, too frequently repeated, cannot fail to produce the most terrible effects.

That’s hot. And so even among the married, he suggested:

As a general rule, it may be said to the healthy and robust, it were better for you not to exceed, in the frequency of your indulgences, the number of months in the year; and you cannot habitually exceed the number of weeks in the year, without in some degree impairing your constitutional powers, shortening your lives, and increasing your liability to disease and suffering.

Graham published a number of his lectures in A Lecture To Young Men On Chastity, A Treatise on Bread and Bread-Making, and Lectures on the Science of Human Life. His followers, calling themselves Grahamites, established the Graham Journal of Health and Longevity to promote his ideas beyond the Northeast. Graham societies flourished in Boston, New York and on the campuses of Oberlin, Wesleyan and Williams Colleges. At Oberlin, the Graham diet was made mandatory between 1837 and 1841, until a rebellion by students and teachers forced the college to back down. Graham’s supporters included Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson (who called Graham “the poet of bran and pumpkins”), Horace Greeley, and Joseph Smith, who would go on to found the Mormon Church.

He also had his detractors. One New York journalist warned that “this wild Fanaticism will sweep through the land overthrowing every social comfort, every physical enjoyment, every pleasure that springs from sense and refers to sense.” A New England newspaper referred to Graham as “Dr. Bran, the philosopher of sawdust pudding.” Rancorous arguments raged back and forth in the pages of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal (the forerunner to the New England Journal of Medicine). One set of articles charged “Grahamism a Cause of Insanity,” while another countered, “Grahamism Not a Cause of Insanity.” According to newspaper accounts, women fainted when he lectured on the evils of sexual incontinence and the wearing of corsets. Bakers and butchers, fearing a loss of business if his ideas caught on, regularly threatened to riot and break up his lectures.

Over time, Graham was eventually dismissed as a crackpot and he fell out of favor. Undoubtedly, the apostle of longevity’s reputation was further dented when he died at age 57. But many of his ideas managed to live on in several new religious movements. In addition to the Latter Day Saints, his theories informed the dietary practices of Christian Science and Seventh-Day Adventism. They also were a profound influence on John Harvey Kellogg, who created a breakfast cereal he called “granola,” based on Graham’s bread recipe and designed to address many of the same sexual concerns.

s'moreIronically, Graham’s thin, coarse Graham bread eventually became a cracker which, by 1900, was sold by the same commercial backers he so reviled. To add insult to injury, the National Biscuit Company (later, Nabisco) added sugar and white flour to the recipe. Later, they began marketing a version that included an evil spice, cinnamon. Next thing you know, you were combining Graham crackers, Hershey bars and roasted marshmallows to make s’mores around the campfire when you were a kid. Good lord, no wonder you’re such a mess!

[All quotations are from: Sylvester Graham. A Lecture to Young Men on Chastity, 4th ed. (Boston: George W. Light, 1838). Available online via Google Books here.]

Jean Cocteau. Photo by Man Ray, 1922.

125 YEARS AGO: Jean Cocteau: 1889-1963. Most artists work in just one or two mediums; Cocteau — poet, novelist, author of plays, ballets and operas; clothing designer, interior designer, graphic designer, painter, illustrator, filmmaker and actor — excelled in just about everything he did. His reputation was cemented in 1917 when, as part if Ballets Russes, he collaborated with Pablo Picaso and Eric Satie for the ballet Parade. The title of his 1929 novel Les Enfants Terrible, about two siblings who create a game out of hurting each other’s feelings, has become a shorthand expression to describe those who go out of their way to shock others. His 1940 play, Le Bel Indifférent, created for his life-long friend Edith Piaf, enjoyed enormous acclaim. His films, which included Blood of a Poet (1930), Les Parents Terribles (1948), La Belle et la Bête (a very pre-Disney Beauty and the Beast, 1946), and Orpheus (1949), are credited for introducing the avant-garde into French cinema.

His circle of friends and collaborators included such belle époque luminaries as Marcel Proust, André Gide, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Sergei Diaghilev and Raymond Radigue. His personal life was similarly varied, which included an affair with Princess Natalie Paley (which ended when Paley aborted her pregnancy with Cocteau’s child) and long term relationships with actors Jean Marais and Édouard Dermit, the latter of whom Cocteau formally adopted. Cocteau died on October 11, 1963, of heart failure, shortly after recording a radio tribute in honor of his beloved Piaf, who had also passed away that same morning.

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 Friday, July 4

Jim Burroway

July 4th, 2014

Jasper Johns. White Flag, 1955.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Perhaps the most famous words written in America, the Declaration of Independence has inspired fights for liberty since its signing in 1776. A decade later, delegates from those thirteen original colonies would gather again for the purposing of forming “a more perfect union.” Not a perfect union, but something at bit closer to that goal. We’ve been striving toward that goal ever since then.

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Budapest, Hungary; Bristol, UK; Chelmsford, UK; Cologne, Germany; Lethbridge, AB; Madrid, Spain; Prince George, BC; Sundsvall, Sweden; Surrey, BC; Victoria, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Family Outfest, Orlando, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From The Blade (Washington, DC), June 1978, page 8.

From The Blade (Washington, DC), June 1978, page 8.

 
Washington D.C.’s Chesapeake House was one of the more notorious bars. Opened in 1975, it was the first to feature nude male dancers. One of those dancers, a sixteen-year-old hustler who got his job with a fake I.D., was picked up by Congressman Robert Bauman (R-MD), whose subsequent arrest led to his ouster by voters a month later (see Oct 3). The Chesapeake House was the last of the 9th street clubs to close in 1992 when the block was razed to make way for a high rise office building.

First edition of Leaves of Grass, 1855.

First edition of Leaves of Grass, 1855.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Walt Whitman Publishes “Leaves of Grass”: 1855. The first edition of Leaves of Grass was a modest affair: self-published (he did much of the typesetting himself), consisting of only twelve unnamed poems in 95 pages (he wanted the book to be small enough to carry in a pocket), and only 800 copies. Whitman’s name appeared nowhere in the volume, just an engraving showing him in work clothes and a hat. The book’s title was a pun: “leaves” were the name publishers used for the pages of a book, and “grass” was a term given by publishers for minor, quickly forgotten works that they nevertheless relied on to pay the bills.

But Whitman’s book was not destined to be consigned to insignificance. He lost his job as a clerk at the Bureau of Indian Affairs after Interior Secretary James Harlan found a copy on Whitman’s desk. “I will not have the author of that book in this Department”, he said, and threatened to resign if the President were to order Whitman’s reinstatement. Critic Rufus Wilmot Griswold reviewed Leaves of Grass for The Criterion, writing, “It is impossible to image how any man’s fancy could have conceived such a mass of stupid filth.” Griswold charged Whitman of “the vilest imaginings and shamefullest license” and “degrading, beastly sensuality.” He also switched to Latin to accuse Whitman of “that horrible sin, among Christians not to be named.” Whitman would defiantly include that review in a later edition.

Frontispiece to the first edition.

Frontispiece to the first edition.

Whitman wrote Leaves of Grass partly in response to an 1844 essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson, who recognized a need for a distinctly American poet to write about the new nation’s qualities. “I was simmering, simmering, simmering; Emerson brought me to a boil,” Whitman said. He sent Emerson a copy of Leaves of Grass, who wrote back with effusive praise. “I find it the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom American has yet contributed,” he wrote. “I am very happy in reading it, as great power makes us happy.” Encouraged, Whitman immediately set about greatly expanding Leaves of Grass for a second edition, which was published the following year.

The expanded version now came in at 384 pages and sold for a dollar. Subsequent editions followed, each different from before. His fourth edition in 1867 was supposed to the last one of his “unkillable work!” But no, the work arose again for another three or five more editions, depending on how you count them. When Whitman was preparing the 1882 edition, a Boston district attorney threatened to prosecute thelocal publisher for obscenity unless Whitman removed two poems and altered ten others, including “Song of Myself,” and “I Sing the Body Electric.” Whitman refused and found a new publisher. When that edition came out, several prominent booksellers and department stores refused to carry it. But the controversy drove increased sales, and the first printing sold out on its first day. That edition then went on through four more printings.

Whitman completed his final edition in 1891. It became known as his “deathbed edition. “L. of G. at last complete —- after 33 y’rs of hackling at it, all times & moods of my life, fair weather & foul, all parts of the land, and peace & war, young & old”. It was published in 1892, and the edition had grown to include more than 400 poems. Two months before Whitman died, the New York Herald published an announcement declaring the 1892 edition the definitive one:

Walt Whitman wishes respectfully to notify the public that the book Leaves of Grass, which he has been working on at great intervals and partially issued for the past thirty-five or forty years, is now completed, so to call it, and he would like this new 1892 edition to absolutely supersede all previous ones. Faulty as it is, he decides it as by far his special and entire self-chosen poetic utterance.

The full first edition is available online at the Walt Whitman Archive.

The first Annual Reminder, 1965.

The first Annual Reminder, 1965.

“Annual Reminder” Pickets at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall: 1965-1969. The Fourth of July commemorates the day in which a group of second class citizens decided that it was finally time to not only declare their independence, but also their dignity for having been created equal and endowed with the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Of course, not all Americans gained their freedom on that date in 1776. Instead, that marked the starting point for a long struggle, one which nearly destroyed the union almost a century later, and one which continues today. The 1960s will be long remembered as an important era in that struggle as racial barriers began to fall across the nation. But barriers against gay people held fast. In 1965, gay people were prohibited from holding jobs with the federal government by an Executive Order, homosexuality was illegal in every state in the country except Illinois, and gay people were regarded as mentally ill by the American Psychiatric Association.

AnnualReminder2To protest those conditions, LGBT activists, under the collective name of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO), met at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall on July 4, 1965 for a demonstration to remind their fellow Americans that LGBT people did not enjoy some of the most fundamental of civil rights. Forty-four activists, including Frank Kameny, Barbara Gittings, and Kay Tobin, picketed in front of Philadelphia’s potent symbol of freedom, carrying signs reading “15 million homosexual Americans as for equality, opportunity, dignity,” and “homosexuals should be judged as individuals.”

Craig Rodwell, a member of New York’s Mattachine Society and owner of the first gay bookstore in the United States (see Nov 24), is credited for coming up with the idea. He envisioned the protest morphing into a kind of a gay holiday. “We can call it the Annual Reminder — the reminder that a group of Americans still don’t have their basic rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Kay Lahusen (see Jan 5) described the picketing in the Daughters of Bilitis’ magazine The Ladder:

Barbara Gittings and Randy Wicker picketing at Independence Hall on July 4, 1966.

“We are not,” asserted one picketer, “wild-eyed, dungareed  radicals throwing ourselves beneath the wheels of police vans that have come to cart us away from a sit-in at the Blue Room  of the White House.” The firm rules followed by homosexual picketers are, in part: “Picketing is not an occasion for an assertion of personality, individuality, ego, rebellion, generalized non-conformity or anti-conformity. …Therefore the individual picketer serves merely to carry a sign or to increase the size of the demonstration; not he, but his sign should attract notice. …Dress and appearance will be conservative and conventional.” And so they have been. Women wear dresses; men wear business suits, white shirts and ties.

…”I didn’t know you people had problems like these.” exclaimed one man after reading the leaflet. His response gratified the key expectation of every picketer. A front-page mention of the demonstration in the Philadelphia Inquirer and coverage on local CBS-TV possibly multiplied his comment a thousandfold. Picketing had drawn public attention to long-hidden injustices.

This dignified protest, which startled many a citizen into fresh thought about the meaning of Independence Day, might well have been applauded by our Founding Fathers, who were intent on making America safe for the differences.

East Coast activists had already staged several pickets in 1965 before descending on the City of Brotherly Love. The first was in 1964, when a small band of activists protested in front of a New York City army induction center (see Sep 19). That action was followed with pickets in front of the White House (see Apr 17,  May 29), the Civil Service Commission (see Jun 26), and the United Nations in New York City (see Apr 18). But it was the Philadelphia protests which proved to be the most enduring. Dubbed the “Annual Reminder,” the picketers returned to Independence hall every year for the next four years.

But with 1969′s Stonewall rebellion, the gay community gained an independence day all of their own. The “Annual Reminder” for 1969, occurring just a few days after that declaration of freedom on Christopher Street in New York, would be the last. In 1970, organizers decided to end the July 4 pickets in favor of the Christopher Street Liberation Day celebration on June 28 to commemorate the first anniversary of the rebellion. We’ve been celebrating Pride as a commemoration of our declaration of independence ever since. But the Annual Reminder hasn’t been forgotten. In 2005, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission erected the first historical marker to recognize and celebrate LGBT history to commemorate those early protests in front of Independence Hall.

You can see a short film shot by gay rights activist Lilli Vincenz in 1968 of the Annual Reminder march for that year here.

[Additional sources: "Kay Tobin" (Kay Lahusen). "Picketing: the impact and the issues."  The Ladder 9, no. 12 (September 1965): 4-8.

Simon Hall. "The American gay rights movement and patriotic protest." Journal of the History of Sexuality 19, no. 3 (September 2010): 536-562.]

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 Thursday, July 3

Jim Burroway

July 3rd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Budapest, Hungary; Bristol, UK; Chelmsford, UK; Cologne, Germany; Lethbridge, AB; Madrid, Spain; Prince George, BC; Sundsvall, Sweden; Surrey, BC; Victoria, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Family Outfest, Orlando, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael’s Thing, February 2, 1976, page 70.

 
Larry Box, who had managed the original Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village when it was raided in 1969, moved to Florida and opened Stonewall Too in 1975. This club was in a building that also housed the 8000 Club Hotel, which at one time sold timeshares to gay clientele. At one point the building housed a piano bar, a restaurant, a gym and this disco. Today, the ground floor of the building houses a clinic, while the bright mid-century modern upper levels are used as a photography studio/events space.

Youths gather in front of the Stonewall on Sunday night, June 29 for a photo that appeared in the front page of the Village Voice.

Youths gather in front of the Stonewall Inn on Sunday night, June 29 for a photo that appeared in the front page of the Village Voice.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
 45 YEARS AGO: Village Voice: “Gay Power Comes to Sheridan Square”: 1969. As I said earlier (see Jun 28), much of what we know about the Stonewall Rebellion comes to us from two articles published by the Village Voice on July 3, 1969. The Voice was perfectly situated, both temperamentally and geographically, to alert its counter-cultural audience to the events that unfolded a virtual stone’s throw from its offices. Lucian Truscott IV’s colorful description of the rise of “the forces of faggotry” during the wee hours of Saturday morning got the bigger headline. His liberal use of the words “fags”  and other epithets along with an often contemptuous tone would soon result in protests by those very same newly-created gay activists at the Voice’s offices just two months later (see Sep 12). Howard Smith’s much more straightforward account of what happened inside the Stonewall Inn also managed to squeeze its first two paragraphs on the front page.

To set the scene, Truscott reported that the police raid on the Stonewall was the second on that week. It started small, with only two detectives, and two male and two female police officers. They detained the patrons inside, and began releasing some of them one by one as a crowd gathered in the street. The crowd at first was somewhat festive, but when a police paddywagon arrived, the mood changed:

Three of the more blatant queens — in full drag — were loaded inside, along with the bartender and doorman, to a chorus of catcalls and boos from the crowd. A cry went up to push the paddywagon over, but it drove away before anything could happen. With its exit, the action waned momentarily. The next person to come out was a dyke, and she put up a struggle — from car to door to car again. It was at that moment that the scene became explosive. Limp wrists were forgotten. Beer cans and bottles were heaved at the windows, and a rain of coins descended on the cops. At the height of the action, a bearded figure was plucked from the crowd and dragged inside. It was Dave Van Ronk, who had come from the Lion’s Head to see what was going on. He was charged with throwing an object at the police.

Many believe that the “dyke” was probably Stormé DeLarverie, a drag king performer of the 1950s and 1960s, who  later worked as a bouncer at several of the city’s lesbian bars. There’s also this anacronism that bears explanation: why did the crowd throw coins? Most likely they were mostly throwing pennies — copper pennies — against the “coppers” in uniform, using the least valuable coin available as a both a taunt and a projectile. It was not an unusual practice in the 1960s.

This would be a good point to switch to Howard Smith’s account from inside the bar. He had been sticking close to Inspector Seymour Pine, the officer in charge of the raid, when the paddy-wagon left and the crowd grew angry. As bottles began flying, Pine ordered his officers inside the bar for cover, and convinced Smith to come inside where “you’re probably safer.”

In goes me. We bolt the heavy door. The front of the Stonewall is mostly brick except for the windows, which are boarded within by plywood. Inside we hear the shattering of windows, followed by what we imagine to be bricks pounding on the door, voices yelling. The floor shudders at each blow. “Aren’t you guys scared?” I say.

“No.” But they look at least uneasy.

The door crashes open. Beer cans and bottles hurtle in. Pine and his troop rush to shut it. At that point the only uniformed cop among them gets hit with something under his eye. He hollers, and his hand comes away scarlet. It looks a lot more serious than it really is. They are all suddenly furious. Three run out in front to see if they can scare the mob from the door. A hail of coins. A beer can glances off Deputy Inspector Smyth’s head.

Pine, a man of about 40 and smallish build, gathers himself, leaps out into the melee, and grabs someone around the waist, pulling him downward and back into the doorway. They fall. Pine regains hold and drags the elected protester inside by the hair. The door slams again. Angry cops converge on the guy releasing their anger on this sample from the mob. … And while the other cops help, he (the cop who was cut) slaps the prisoner five or six times very hard and finishes with a punch to the mouth. They handcuff the guy as he almost passes out. “All right,” Pine announces, “we’ll book him for assault.” The door is open again. More objects are thrown in. The detectives locate a fire hose, the idea being to ward off the madding crowd until reinforcements arrive. They can’t see where to aim it, wedging the hose in a crack in the door. It sends out a weak stream.”

That man who was dragged inside was Dave Van Ronk, who Truscott mentioned in his article. Switching back to Truscott’s narrative:

Three cops were necessary to get Van Ronk away from the crowd and into the Stonewall. The exit left no cops on the street, and almost by signal the crowd erupted into cobblestone and bottle heaving. The reaction was solid: they were pissed. The trashcan I was standing on was nearly yanked out from under me as a kid tried to grab it for use in the window smashing melee. From nowhere came an uprooted parking meter — used as a battering ram on the Stonewall door. I heard several cries of “Let’s get some gas,” but the blaze of flame which soon appeared in the window of the Stonewall was still a shock.

Back inside, Smith describes how that fire very nearly led to the police shooting into the crowd:

Pine places a few men on each side of the corridor leading away from the entrance. They aim unwavering at the door. One detective arms himself in addition with a sawed-off baseball bat he has found. I hear, “We’ll shoot the first motherfucker that comes through the door.” … I can only see the arm at the window. It squirts a liquid into the room, and a flaring match follows. Pine is not more than 10 feet away. He aims his gun at the figures.

He doesn’t fire. The sound of sirens coincides with the whoosh of flames where the lighter fluid was thrown. Later, Pine tells me he didn’t shoot because he had heard the sirens in time and felt no need to kill someone if help was arriving. It was that close.

With backup on hand, police cleared the streets. According to Truscott, the immediate battle was over in forty-five minutes, although other accounts describe running street battles continuing for the rest of the night, with police cars damaged, trash cans set ablaze and windows broken out in area banks and storefronts. According to Truscott, thirteen were arrested taht night, and two police officers were injured. Quiet was restored that night, and the Stonewall’s management quickly got the bar ready to re-open and get everything back to normal for Saturday night, as it always had before. But this time occupiers of Sheridan Square had other plans. Again, Truscott:

Friday night’s crowd had returned and was being led in “gay power” cheers by a group of gay cheerleaders. “We are the Stonewall girls/ We wear our hair in curls/ We have no underwear/ We show our pubic hairs!” The crowd was gathered across the street from the Stonewall and was growing with additions of onlookers, Eastsiders, and rough street people who saw a chance for a little action. …As the “gay power” chants on the street rose in frequency and volume, the crowd grew restless. The front of the Stonewall was losing its attraction, despite efforts by the owners to talk the crowd back into the club….

The people on the street were not to be coerced. “Let’s go down the street and see what’s happening, girls,” someone yelled. And down the street went the crowd, smack into the Tactical Patrol Force, who had been called earlier to disperse the crowd and were walking west on Christopher from Sixth Avenue. Formed in a line, the TPF swept the crowd back to the corner of Waverly Place where they stopped. A stagnant situation there brought on some gay tomfoolery in the form of a chorus line facing the helmeted and club-carrying cops. Just as the line got into a full kick routine, the TPF advanced again and cleared the crowd of screaming gay powerites down Christopher to Seventh Avenue. The street and park were then held from both ends, and no one was allowed to enter — naturally causing a fall-off in normal Saturday night business, even at the straight Lion’s Head and 55. The TPF positions in and around the square were held with only minor incident — one busted head and a number of scattered arrest — while the cops amused themselves by arbitrarily breaking up small groups of people up and down the avenue. The crowd finally dispersed around 3:30 A.M.

Other accounts have the Saturday night uprising as being more widespread and more violent than Truscott’s description. People were beaten with nightsticks, and tear gas was deployed in front of the Stonewall to try to break up the crowd.

The crowds gathered again on Sunday night, but according to Truscott, it was a somewhat quieter night with police and TPF out in force. In fact, unrest and police confrontations would go continue for another three nights. But Truscott’s account ended on a triumphal note Sunday:

Allen Ginsberg and Taylor Mead walked by to see what was happening and were filled in on the previous evenings’ activities by some of the gay activists. “Gay power! Isn’t that great! ” Allen said. “We’re one of the largest minorities in the country — 10 per cent, you know. It’s about time we did something to express ourselves.”

Ginsberg expressed a desire to visit the Stonewall — “You know, I’ve never been in there ” — and ambled on down the street, flashing peace signs and helloing the TPF. It was a relief and a kind of joy to see him on the street. He lent an extra umbrella of serenity of the scene with his laughter and quiet commentary on consciousness, “gay power” as a new movement, and the various implications of what had happened. I followed him into the Stonewall, where rock music blared from speakers all around a room that might have come right from a Hollywood set of a gay bar. He was immediately bouncing and dancing wherever he moved.

He left, and I walked east with him. Along the way, he described how things used to be. “You know, the guys there were so beautiful — they’ve lost that wounded look that fags all had 10 years ago.” It was the first time I had heard this crowd described as beautiful.

We reached Cooper Square, and as Ginsberg turned to head toward home, he waved and yelled, “Defend the fairies!” and bounced on across the square. He enjoyed the prospect of “gay power” and is probably working on a manifesto for the movement right now. Watch out. The liberation is under way.

[Sources: Lucian Truscott IV. "Gay Power Comes to Sheridan Square." Village Voice 14, no. 38 (July 3, 1969): 1, 18. Available online via the Google Newspaper Archive here.

Howard Smith. "View from Inside: Full Moon Over the Stonewall." Village Voice 14, no. 38 (July 3, 1969): 1, 25, 29. Available online via the Google Newspaper Archive here.]

200px-US-CivilServiceCommission-Seal-EO11096

Civil Service Commission Begins Hiring Gay People: 1975. In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded to both the “Red Scare” and the “Lavender Scare” stoked by Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist and anti-gay hearings by signing an executive order mandating the firing of all federal employees who were found guilty of “sexual perversion” — government-speak for homosexuality (see Apr 27). Untold thousands lost their jobs in the ensuing decades, including one astronomer by the name of Frank Kameny, who was fired in 1957 (see Dec 20). He protested his firing, and argued his case in federal court all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court refused to hear the case in 1961, making his firing permanent. Kameny went on to become a leading gay-rights activist, and while his efforts extended to opposition to all aspects of discrimination and oppression, the federal employment ban never strayed far from his top concerns. Kameny supported others who had been fired in their efforts to get their jobs back and organized several protests and meetings at the commission’s Washington, D.C. headquarters throughout the next two decades (see, for example, Sept 28, Jun 26).

While Kameny’s case was the first legal challenge, it wasn’t the last. Several others followed suit, but most federal judges sided with the government’s position upholding the Civil Service Commission’s rules. But in 1973, after a federal judge in California ordered the commission to cease labeling gay people as unfit for federal employment, the commission decided to review its policies. By 1975, the commission finally amended its regulations and ended its ban on employing gays in the federal government. The decision however was not accompanied by a formal announcement. Instead, supervisors were quietly instructed that no one was to be barred for homosexuality. But news of the change did slowly leak out. According to Joyce Murdoch and Deb Price in their book Courting Justice: Gay Men And Lesbians V. The Supreme Court, Frank Kameny learned of the change via a phone call on a Thursday before the Fourth of July weekend. Federal personnel officials “surrendered to me on July 3rd, 1975,” he recalled. “They called me up to tell me they were changing their policies to suit me. And that was the end of it.”

MMWR1981.07.03

Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexuals: 1981. That was the headline the New York Times used to announce a new set of illnesses stalking gay men. The Times article, the first mainstream media report about of what would eventually become known as AIDS, came out just a month  after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) first announced that five gay men had died of a rare form of pneumonia in Los Angeles (see Jun 5). Now the CDC issued another notice of gay men in New York and California being stricken with Kaposi’s Sarcoma in the July 3 edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report:

During the past 30 months, Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS), an uncommonly reported malignancy in the United States, has been diagnosed in 26 homosexual men (20 in New York City [N YC ]; 6 in California). The 26 patients range in age from 26-51 years (mean 39 years). Eight of these patients died (7 in NYC, 1 in California)—all 8 within 24 months after KS was diagnosed. The diagnoses in all 26 cases were based on histopathological examination o f skin lesions, lymph nodes, or tumor in other organs. Twenty-five of the 26 patients were white, 1 was black. …

Skin or mucous membrane lesions, often dark blue to violaceous plaques or nodules, were present in most of the patients on their initial physician visit. However, these lesions were not always present and often were considered benign by the patient and his physician. …

Seven KS patients had serious infections diagnosed after their initial physician visit. Six patients had pneumonia (4 biopsy confirmed as due to Pneumocystis carinii [PC]), and one had necrotizing toxoplasmosis of the central nervous system. One of the patients  with Pneumocystis pneumonia also experienced severe, recurrent, herpes simplex infection; extensive candidiasis; and cryptococcal meningitis.

This report, which noted that gay men were developing KS “during the past 30 months” confirmed rumors that had been swirling in New York of a “gay cancer.” Until then, KS had been extremely rare, affecting mainly older men of Mediterranean descent, Africans in the equatorial belt, and transplant patients who were on anti-rejection drugs that suppressed their immune systems. The CDC report also updated their count of gay men with Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) from the prior month, from five to fifteen.

[Sources: A. Friedman-Kein, L. Laubenstein, M. Marmor, et al. "Epidemiologic Notes and Reports: Kaposi's Sarcoman and Pneumocystis Pneumonia among homosexual men -- New York City and California." Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 30, no. 25 (July 3, 1981): 305.308. Available online here (PDF: 705KB/12 pages).

Lawrence K. Altman. "Rare Cancer Seen in 41 Homosexual Men." New York Times (July 3, 1981): 20.]

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Scott Lively Upset That John Oliver Quoted Him

Jim Burroway

July 2nd, 2014
YouTube Preview Image

John Oliver did a major segment Sunday night on HBO’s Last Week Tonight focusing on the influence of people like Scott Lively on Uganda’s rising homophobia which culminated in the passage of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act last February. Lively took umbrage over Oliver’s playing back some of the crazy things Lively has said over the past several years:

I find it funny that lefties like John Oliver who pose as humanitarians are the masters at dehumanizing other people through ridicule and never give the subjects of their smears a fair chance to respond.

I’m calling out John Oliver as a liar and a fraud who couldn’t go ten minutes with me in an unscripted, unedited debate. Without his teleprompter and his cheap-shot, out-of-context video clips he would be exposed as just another left-wing loony.

Oliver is lying through selective editing re Rwanda and several other points. His show was one continuous stream of malicious LGBT propaganda in the guise of comedy.

You can see what Lively said about Rwanda and several other points here, when BTB debuted details of his March 2009 talk for the first time.

At least one marriage in Indiana will be recognized

Timothy Kincaid

July 2nd, 2014

amy and nikiLast Wednesday, Federal District Judge Richard Young ruled that Indiana’s ban on same-sex marriages violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the US Constitution. After several marriages took place, on Friday the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the ruling until appeal can be heard.

The status of the marriages that took place in the interim is uncertain. But one couple’s marriage has caught the attention of the courts and merited special treatment.

Earlier this year, before determining the constitutionality of the law, Judge Young had made an emergency ruling on the marriage of one couple, Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney. Quasney has been fighting ovarian cancer for five years and may not be able to continue the battle until after the legal process has been completed.

When the Seventh Circuit stayed Judge Young’s marriage rulings, it put Sandler’s and Quasney’s marriage back in limbo. But, as did Young, the Appeals Court has recognized the severity of the situation and made exception. (IndyStar)

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the state to recognize the same-sex marriage of one Hoosier couple.

Tuesday’s ruling came at the request of Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney, who is terminally ill. They are among the couples who had filed lawsuits earlier this year challenging the state law than bans same-sex marriage and the recognition of gay marriages conducted legally in other states.

A three-judge panel from the federal appeals court in Chicago ordered the unique recognition for the Munster couple a day after it announced plans to expedite the appeal of U.S. District Judge Richard Young’s ruling last week that found Indiana’s ban unconstitutional.

This is an act of mercy. But it also tells us something of the mind of the court.

Yesterday’s ruling gives a clear indication that at least this panel of judges expects that marriage equality has proven its merits and will prevail at the Circuit Court level.

I am also beginning to wonder if the Supreme Court will even hear the matter of marriage. Should all of the Circuit Courts come to identical conclusion, which seems increasingly likely, there would be no legal conflict nor perhaps a need for SCOTUS to take up the issue.

The Daily Agenda for Wednesday, July 2

Jim Burroway

July 2nd, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Budapest, Hungary; Bristol, UK; Chelmsford, UK; Cologne, Germany; Lethbridge, AB; Madrid, Spain; Prince George, BC; Sundsvall, Sweden; Surrey, BC; Victoria, BC.

Other Events This Weekend: Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Durban, South Africa; Family Outfest, Orlando, FL.

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Just Us, 1975, page 17.

From Just Us, 1975, page 17.

 
Washington, D.C.’s Grand Central opened in 1974, and almost immediately became embroiled in controversy when eight people filed a complaint with the city’s Office of Human Rights, charging that the club was denying entry to women, drag queens and African-Americans. They were doing this by insisting on seeing several forms of identification at the door, while not holding white patrons to the same standard. This was a common practice among several gay bars and dance clubs in the District. In 1977, the eight, represented by the National Lawyers Guild, won a judgment of sexual and racial discrimination against Grand Central. That same year, owners Glenn Thompson and George Dotson closed the club. The site became Chapter II, then Marty’s in 1984, then Chapter III in 1985, then Nexus, a straight stripper’s club until 2007, when it was demolished and replaced with a high rise condo.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
State Department Fires 381 Gay Employees: 1953. In the early 1950s, the entire country was in the grips of the Red Scare as Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy was conducting his witch hunts. One of his main platforms would be the Senate’s Subcommittee on the Investigation of Loyalty of State Department Employees. While McCarthy’s main targets were imaginary Communists in the State Department, gay employees were also seen as “subversives” in need of rooting out. Among the more high-profile targets was Samuel Reber, a twenty-seven year career diplomat who announced his retirement in May of 1953 after McCarthy charged that he was a “security risk” — which was a barely-concealed code for homosexual. By then, President Dwight D. Eisenhower had already responded to McCarthy’s witch hunt by signing an executive order mandated the firing of all federal employees who were deemed guilty of “sexual perversion,” whether proven or not (See Apr 27). Eisenhower also announced a re-organization of the State Department. Rep. Charles B Brownson, an Indiana Republican with his own lesser-known witch hunt underway in the House Government Operations Committee, asked the State Department for a progress report in rooting out homosexuals. On July 2, 1953, the State Department’s chief security officer R.W. Scott McLeod revealed that 351 homosexuals and 150 other “security risks” had been fired between 1950 and 1953.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Richard Bruce Nugent: 1906-1987. When the landmark Harlem Renaissance literary magazine Fire!! published his short story “Smoke, Lilies and Jade” in 1926, Richard Bruce Nugent became the first African-American writer willing to declare his homosexuality in print — and he would remain so for the next thirty years. A year earlier, he had been attending the “Saturday Evening” salons of poet Georgia Douglas Johnson in his native Washington, D.C., where he was introduced to the leading African-American thinkers of the day, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, Jean Toomer, and Waldo Frank. He also met poet Langston Hughes (see Feb 1). The two of them became fast friends and moved to New York. Nugent, Hughes, Cal Van Vechten (see Jun 17) and several others became integral players in Harlem’s intellectual and artistic life, with Nugent becoming the most notorious. Van Vechten once wrote to Hughes that he saw Nugent at a society dinner in evening clothes “with his usual open chest and uncovered ankles. I suppose soon he will be going without trousers.”

Nugent wasn’t just a writer, but also a dancer, painter and illustrator. The apartment complex in Harlem that he shared with other artists became known as “Niggeratti Manor,” where Nugent had painted the walls with mural, some depicting homoerotic scenes. Other illustrations appeared in Fire!! as well as two other African-American publications Opportunity and Palms, and other New York art magazines. Meanwhile, he continued to write short stories and even took his turn on the stage, appearing on Broadway and in an early production of the play Porgy (later adapted by George Gershwin for Porgy and Bess) In 1937, he published what is often considered his finest work, “Pope Pius the Only.”

In 1952, he married Grace Marr, with whom he shared accommodations, and with her three brothers. The marriage was her idea; she thought she could “change” him. It’s unclear why he went along with it. He warned her that it was a bad idea, but marry her he did. The relationship was never consummated. Meanwhile, Nugent remained an active booster of Harlem’s literary and arts scene throughout the rest of his life. He was also a harsh critic of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 1968 exhibition on the Harlem Renaissance which, astonishingly, was put together without the involvement of Harlem artists. In 1983 he was interviewed for the film Before Stonewall. He died in 1987. In 2002 Duke University Press published Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance: Selections from the Work of Richard Bruce Nugent, a collection of Nugent’s most important writings, paintings, and drawings, many of them made available for the first time.

Dee Palmer

Dee Palmer: 1937. Jethro Tull fans would know her as composer and keyboardist David Palmer. She had provided orchestral arrangements for several significant Jethro Tull albums, including Aqualung and Thick as a Brick before joining the band as a full time musician in 1976. At the time, she presented herself as an eccentric Englishman, complete with a Sherlock Holmes pipe and a beard. She remained with the band until it broke up in 1980 over Ian Anderson’s decision to release a solo album under the Jethro Tull name.

She was also married. He had told Maggie about her transgender feelings on their second date, and Maggie was accepting. “All of my time with Maggie was blissfully happy,” she later recalled. But after her wife died in 1998, Dee was left alone to confront her sense that something was wrong. “Once she died I sat in the kitchen looking down the garden for a year, then gradually from the outermost part of my body and soul where I had consigned what I was to learn was gender dysphoria started to reassert itself as something that I had to deal with again.”

She finally decided it was time to act on the feelings that she had been having since the age of three. She changed her name to Dee in 2000 and underwent gender reassignment in 2004. The whole process for her was very difficult. “It isn’t for wimps by the way … And it isn’t for people who want to wear a frock and prance around masquerading as a female. It’s nothing to do with that, it’s a light year away from that.” Now that she has transitioned, she feels liberated, and lives with a sense that there was nothing left to hold her back. “it is like jumping from a parachute. At first it’s very easy, but then suddenly the ground is coming up at you and you can’t stop until you’ve reached the end; it’s very much that kind of experience – your writing and performance will take on new dimensions.”

JohnnyWeir

30 YEARS AGO: Johnny Weir: 1984. The famous American figure skater is a three-time U.S. National Champion (2004–2006) and a the 2008 Worlds Championship bronze medalist, although for a number of reasons, his Olympic appearances in 2006 and 2010 were disappointing. When he appeared at the 2010 U.S. Championships wearing fox fur as part of his costume, he began to receive death threats from animal rights activists. He defended his decision to wear fur as “a personal choice,” but decided to remove the fur from his costume. By the time the 2010 Winter Olympics came around in Vancouver, he had to change his housing arrangement due to security concerns.

Weir was always a bit different — including the fact that he spins clockwise instead of counter-clockwise like most other figure skaters. He was long suspected of being gay — as are probably most male figure skaters. The fact that he designed some of his own skating costumes in a very androgynous style didn’t do much to quell the rumors. But for most of his career, he preferred to leave the questions unanswered. “It’s not part of my sport and it’s private,” he’d say. But when he published his memoir Welcome to My World in 2011, he finally came out as gay. He said his decision to come out was prompted by a string of suicides in 2010. “With people killing themselves and being scared into the closet, I hope that even just one person can gain strength from my story.”

In 2013, Weir retired from professional skating and became an NBC figure skating analyst for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. When controversy over Russia’s anti-gay laws prompted calls to boycott the games, Weir, who is a self-proclaimed Russophile, criticized those suggestions by saying that “the Olympics are not the place to make a political statement” about Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, adding “you have to respect the culture of a country you are visiting.” Just before leaving for the Sochi games, Weir filed for what looked to be a very nasty divorce from his Russian husband, Victor Voronov, only to reconcile a few months later.

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Happy Canada Day

Timothy Kincaid

July 1st, 2014

Canadian Parliament
To our Canadian readers, have a joyous holiday.

Another Marriage Ban Bites the Dust

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2014

Kentucky!

A federal judge today ruled that same-sex couples have a right to marry in Kentucky.

“In America, even sincere and long-hold religious beliefs do not trump the constitutional rights of those who happen to have been out-voted,” U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II wrote to invalidate Kentucky’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

…Heyburn upheld the right to marry today, but put his ruling on hold pending a decision by a higher court. Heyburn rejected the only justification offered by lawyers for Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear — that traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate and the state’s long-term economic stability.

“These arguments are not those of serious people,” he said.

Judge Heyburn, who was appointed to the bench in 1992 by President George H.W. Bush on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) recommendation, ruled that Kentucky’s ban violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Earlier this year, the same judge ruled that the state of Kentucky must recognize the validity of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The full ruling is here. Judge Heyburn begins by observing the near-unanimity of prior court decisions in the wake of Windsor but explains why, unlike most other Federal judges, he chose not to rule on Due Process grounds:

Since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013), every federal court to consider state bans on same-sex marriage and recognition has declared them unconstitutional. Most of these courts have done so under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This Court’s opinion differs in that it does not determine whether Kentucky’s laws interfere with a fundamental right. The Court’s chief reason for declining to do so is its careful reading of Windsor, which suggests that the Supreme Court is unwilling and unlikely to view the right Plaintiffs seek to exercise as fundamental under the Constitution.

He explains that a bit further

Although many courts have discussed the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses in tandem, ultimately, this Court sees this case as more clearly about the imposition of a classification than about the contours of a due process right. The constitutional question is whether a state can lawfully exclude a certain class of individuals, i.e. homosexual persons, from the status and dignity of marriage. The Court will resolve Plaintiffs’ claims solely on equal protection grounds.

Judge Heyburn acknowledged that “the most difficult part of the equal protection analysis here is determining the proper standard of review.” For heightened scrutiny, which places to burden of proof on the state to show that its action against a suspect class is narrowly tailored to further a legitimate government interest. If the action interferes with a fundemantal right, then gay people qualify as a suspect class, then strict scrutiny applies. But if gay people are simply being singled out for special treatment for other reasons, then they may qualify for quasi-suspect class requiring heghtened scrutiny. While Loving v. Virgina and other court cases identified marriage as a fundamental right, Judge Heyburn found that when the U.S. Supreme Court had the opportunity to extend that fundamental right to gay people in Windsor, it decliend to do so:

If the inquiry here is viewed as a contours-of-the-right question, holding that the fundamental right to marry encompasses same-sex marriage would be a dramatic step that the Supreme Court has not yet indicated a willingness to take. Further, it is a step that is unnecessary to the ultimate result in this action. Given the current posture of relevant constitutional jurisprudence, this Court finds caution here a more appropriate approach to avoid overreaching in its own constitutional analysis.

He did however rule that gay people constitute a quasi-suspect class, based on four factors identified by the Supreme Court: 1) historical discrimination, 2) ability to contribute to society, 3) immutable defining characteristics, and 4) politiacl powerlessness.

Historical discrimination against homosexual persons is readily apparent and cannot reasonably be disputed. Further, the Court cannot think of any reason why homosexuality would affect a person’s ability to contribute to society. No court has concluded otherwise. The remaining two factors, immutability and political powerlessness, are slightly less straightforward.

As to immutability, the relevant inquiry is not whether a person could, in fact, change a characteristic, but rather whether the characteristic is so integral to a person’s identity that it would be inappropriate to require her to change it to avoid discrimination. Accord Wolf, 2014 WL 2558444, at *28; see also Griego v. Oliver, 2014-NMSC-003, 316 P.3d 865, 884 (N.M. 2013). For example, strictly speaking, a person can change her citizenship, religion, and even gender. Legislative classifications based on these characteristics nevertheless receive heightened scrutiny because, even though they are in a sense subject to choice, no one should be forced to disavow or change them. That is, these characteristics are “an integral part of human freedom” entitled to constitutional protection, as is sexual expression. Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 577. …

Finally, the Court finds that homosexual persons are “politically powerless” within the constitutional meaning of this phrase. In discussing this factor, the Second Circuit noted: “The question is not whether homosexuals have achieved political influence and success over the years; they clearly have. The question is whether they have the strength to politically protect themselves from wrongful discrimination.” Windsor, 699 F.3d at 184. Indeed, if the standard were whether a given minority group had achieved any political successes over the years, virtually no group would qualify as a suspect or quasi-suspect class. A more effective inquiry looks to the vulnerability of a class in the political process due to its size or political or cultural history. See Wolf, 2014 WL 2558444, at *29. Under this inquiry, Kentucky’s laws against homosexual persons are “Exhibit A” of this powerlessness.

With gay people identified as a quasi-suspect class, Judge Heyburn ruled that the state of Kentucky was burdened with proving that its same-sex marriage ban is substantially related to an important governmental objective. And here’s where we get to the really juicy part, because Judge Heyburn then went on to say that Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage would not even stand up to any level of scrutiny. “Rational basis review, while deferential, is not ‘toothless,’” Heyburn noted, before tearing into the state’s “illogical and even bewildering” attempts to justify Kentucky’s marriage ban:

The Court will begin with Defendant’s only asserted justification for Kentucky’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage: “encouraging, promoting, and supporting the formation of relationships that have the natural ability to procreate.” Perhaps recognizing that procreation- based arguments have not succeeded in this Court, see Bourke, 2014 WL 556729, at *8, nor any other court post-Windsor, Defendant adds a disingenuous twist to the argument: traditional marriages contribute to a stable birth rate which, in turn, ensures the state’s long-term economic stability.

These arguments are not those of serious people. Though it seems almost unnecessary to explain, here are the reasons why. Even assuming the state has a legitimate interest in promoting procreation, the Court fails to see, and Defendant never explains, how the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage has any effect whatsoever on procreation among heterosexual spouses. Excluding same-sex couples from marriage does not change the number of heterosexual couples who choose to get married, the number who choose to have children, or the number of children they have. See Bishop v. United States ex rel. Holder, 962 F. Supp. 2d 1252, 1291 (N.D. Okla. 2014) (“Marriage is incentivized for naturally procreative couples to precisely the same extent regardless of whether same-sex couples (or other non- procreative couples) are included.”). The Court finds no rational relation between the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the Commonwealth’s asserted interest in promoting naturally procreative marriages.

The state’s attempts to connect the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage to its interest in economic stability and in “ensuring humanity’s continued existence” are at best illogical and even bewildering. These arguments fail for the precise reasons that Defendant’s procreation argument fails.

Numerous courts have repeatedly debunked all other reasons for enacting such laws. The Court can think of no other conceivable legitimate reason for Kentucky’s laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage.

The State tried to anticipate one anti-gay argument that courts elsewhere have slapped down by asserting that just because oppposite-sex couples may not be able to procreate or may chose not to, doesn’t mean that it can’t deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples because they can’t procreate. Judge Heyburn agreed that this inconsistency doesn’t automatically fail a rational-basis rule. “However, that Kentucky’s laws do not deny licenses to other non- procreative couples reveals the true hypocrisy of the procreation-based argument,” he countered.

More importantly, the imperfect line-drawing argument assumes incorrectly that the Court bases its ruling on a comparison between same-sex couples and other non-procreative couples. On the contrary, this Court bases its ruling primarily upon the utter lack of logical relation between the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriages and any conceivable legitimate state interest. Any relationship between Kentucky’s ban on same-sex marriage and its interest in procreation and long-term economic stability “is so attenuated as to render the distinction arbitrary or irrational.” City of Cleburne, 473 U.S. at 446.

Judge Heybourn concluded his ruling by noting both reaction to his earlier ruling requiring Kentucky to recognize same-sex marriage performed outside the state and the evolving legal landscape since his earlier decision:

Since this Court’s Bourke opinion, the legal landscape of same-sex marriage rights across the country has evolved considerably, with eight additional federal district courts and one circuit court invalidating state constitutional provisions and statutes that denied same-sex couples the right to marry. …With this opinion, this Court joins their company.

Sometimes, by upholding equal rights for a few, courts necessarily must require others to forebear some prior conduct or restrain some personal instinct. Here, that would not seem to be the case. Assuring equal protection for same-sex couples does not diminish the freedom of others to any degree. Thus, same-sex couples’ right to marry seems to be a uniquely “free” constitutional right. Hopefully, even those opposed to or uncertain about same-sex marriage will see it that way in the future.

The Court’s holding today is consistent with Bourke, although it requires different relief. The ability to marry in one’s state is arguably much more meaningful, to those on both sides of the debate, than the recognition of a marriage performed in another jurisdiction. But it is for that very reason that the Court is all the more confident in its ruling today.

The Daily Agenda for Tuesday, July 1

Jim Burroway

July 1st, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Arizona Gay News, June 24, 1977, page 7.

From Arizona Gay News, June 24, 1977, page 7.

 
The Last Culture disco opened in Tucson in 1977 over the July 4 weekend. The Arizona Gay News described the new club:

Aztec, Egyptian, Futuristic are apt words to describe the totally remodeled Last Culture disco located at 1455 N. Miracle Mile. Owners Bernie, Joel, and Budd have spared no expense to make this club one of the most up to date discotheques in the West. A complete new computerized sound system. A completely new lighting system. A complete new laser system that will have your head spinning are but three of the innovations that have been installed. There is a new bleacher section for resting between dances.

The Last Culture disco is in conjunction with Dr. Jekyll’s and Mr. Hyde’s Restaurant which makes this facility one of the most complete entertainment centers in the Southwest.

The city of Tucson inadvertently found itself in the gay bar business in November of 1978 when it purchased the Tucson House, a high rise apartment building on 1455 N. Miracle Mile, which the city intended to turn into public housing for senior citizens. City council members were surprised to learn that the strip mall in front of Tucson House, which housed The Last Culture and Jekyll and Hyde’s, happened to be part of the same transaction, making the city the clubs’ new landlord. While Tucson overall was quite gay friendly — the city council would pass a broad anti-discrimination ordinance a month later — anti-gay council member Ricard Amlee was aghast. “I don’t want to use city funds to finance any of their operations,” he said, apparently ignorant of the fact that the two bars were now paying the city “four figures each month” for rent.

At about the same time, the business itself was sold to new owners, and I don’t know what happened after that. I’m still combing through back issues of the Arizona Gay News, which showed that the business continued to advertise as Jekyll’s Last Culture for a few more weeks, as it had been doing through much of 1978, after which it seems to have dropped The Last Culture and advertised itself simply as Jekyll’s. The building is still there (that stretch of Miracle Mile was renamed as the southern portion of Oracle Road to reflect a realignment several blocks to the north), and houses a family and youth counseling non-profit organization.

[Sources: "Jekyll's Changes Hands, City New Landlord." Arizona Gay News 3, no. 47 (November 23, 1978): 1.]

L-R: Willem Arondeus, Sjoerd Bakker, and Johan Brouwer.

L-R: Willem Arondeus, Sjoerd Bakker, and Johan Brouwer.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
Gay Resistance Fighters Shot By Nazis: 1943. Dutch painter and writer Willem Arondeus’s career in art, like that of many artists, was marked by poverty. But his 1938 biography of the Dutch painter Matthijs Maris (1839-1917) not only assured Arondeus of a modest steady income, but Maris’s fight on the barricades in 1871 for the Paris Communards inspired Arondeus to join the Resistance when the Nazis invaded Holland. Arondeus hatched a plot to burn the Bevolkingsregister which housed the citizen registration office in Amsterdam where the Nazis kept copies of all of the identity cards held by Dutch citizens. Late on March 27, 1943, Arondeus and fourteen others, including two young doctors, donned German uniforms, asked the building’s guards to open the building for a special inspection. As soon as they gained entry, the two doctors injected the guards to put them asleep and placed them in the courtyard away from harm while the rest of the crew set fire to the building.

aanslag_bevolkings_register1_370

The destroyed Bevolkingsregister, 1943.

Five days later, an unknown infiltrator informed the Nazis, which arrested the group. During the trial, Arondeus took responsibility for the fire. The two doctors were sentenced to life in prison, but the rest were ordered to go before a firing squad. Before he was executed, Arondeus asked his lawyer to make public after the war that he and two others were gay: the tailor Sjoerd Bakker, who made the fake German uniforms, and writer Johan Brouwer. “Tell the people that gays are not cowards,” Arondeus instructed his lawyer. (Bakker, for his part, requested a pink shirt as his last request before his execution.) But despite the Netherlands’ renowned liberal attitudes, Arondeus’s request wasn’t heeded until 1990 when a television documentary by the Dutch filmmaker Toni Bouwmans revealed the full story.

[Source: Lutz van Dijk. "Arondeus, Willem" in Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon (eds.) Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to the Mid-Twentieth Century, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2002): 34-35.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Farley Granger: 1925-2011: Despite being one of the best-looking and well-regarded men in Hollywood, Granger didn’t have the kind of prolific a film career one might expect. He is best known for his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope and Strangers on a Train and for Luchino Visconti’s Senso. In Rope, Granger played a murderer and (implied) lover of an accomplice in a story inspired by the Loeb and Leopold murder.

In real life, Granger enjoyed the attentions of men, and women. According to his 2007 autobiography Include Me Out, he had affairs with Patricia Neal, Arthur Laurents, Shelly Winters, Leonard Bernstein, Barbara Stanwick and Ava Gardner. As for dealing with “liberal” Hollywood’s deeply-entrenched homophobia:

I found it difficult to answer questions about “gay life in Hollywood when I was living and working there. …I was never ashamed, and I never felt the need to explain or apologize for my relationships with anyone. I had many gay friends, but more of my friends were straight and most were married with families. The ratio of my gay to straight friends was probably in direct proportion to that of gay and straight people in general. I have loved men. I have loved women.”

Granger insisted he was never closeted, and he also resisted labeling himself:

Men or women?

“That really depends on the person,” he said impishly. But his follow-up comment left little doubt: “I’ve lived the greater part of my life with a man” — he has been with (Robert) Calhoun in New York since the 1960s — “so obviously that’s the most satisfying to me.”

In the late 1950s, Granger left Hollywood and moved to New York City, where he launched a second career on Broadway. Granger died in 2011 of natural causes in New York at the age of 85.

Fred Schneider: 1951. The B-52s front man is probably America’s best known practitioner of sprechgesang. (The Free Dictionary: “a type of vocalization between singing and recitation … originated by Arnold Schoenberg, who used it in Pierrot Lunaire (1912)”) The group’s guy-and-gals call-and-response between Schneider and Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson have become a trademark ever since “Rock Lobster” hit the charts in 1978. That sound defined the B-52s as the quintessential party band, inviting everyone to pile into the Chrysler as big as a whale. Schneider was coy about his sexuality throughout the 1980s and most of the 1990s, but his reluctance appeared to be more a matter of annoyance than fear. “I’m on the same side the fence as k.d., Elton and Frederick the Great. I just don’t like to share my personal life with the public.” Of course, there wasn’t much sharing needed. His own mother’s reaction when he came out to her probably sums it up for everyone else. “Oh I know, Freddie,” she said, and continued vacuuming without missing a beat.

Roddy Bottum: 1963. The keyboardist for Faith No More since 1982, Bottum came out as gay in 1993 the year after his father died. It’s easy to imagine that his revelation would have come as quite a shock to the hyper-hetero world of heavy metal, but Bottum described it as “a positive and uplifting experience. I guess I expected some of the fans to burn crosses or throw panties at me, but nothing like that ever happened.” One of his hits with Faith No More was “Be Aggressive,” from their 1992 album Angel Dust. The homoerotic song was about oral sex. “It was a pretty fun thing to write, knowing that (lead singer Mike Patton) was going to have to put himself on the line and go up onstage and sing these vocals.” Bottum’s openness about his sexuality didn’t exactly open the floodgates for other heavy metal rockers to come out. “You’d think there’d be a lot more homosexuality in metal with all the dressing up,” he told The Advocate in 1999. By then he had left Faith No More — and metal — to form the indie boy/girl group Imperial Teen. Since 2005, Bottum has written scores for more than a dozen movies and television shows.

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?

What Does the Hobby Lobby Decision Mean For LGBT People?

Jim Burroway

June 30th, 2014

Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and other closely held corporations and family-owned businesses may not be compelled under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to provide contraception coverage as part of their employees’ health plan if doing so would violate the company’s sincerely-held religious beliefs under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). I can sort of understand how a family that owns a family-owned business can hold strong religious beliefs, but I’m still unclear how that applies to public corporations, not matter how closely owned it may be. (Did Hobby Lobby’s corporate charter have to undergo baptism by immersion, or would sprinkling do?) But at any rate, that is now the law of the land, and it has LGBT-rights advocates on edge because it may be an opening toward allowing companies to deny spousal benefits to same-sex couples, whether it is health benefits, medical leave, etc. It will probably take several more lawsuits and several more rulings before we have a clearer picture of how broad or narrow this ruling will actually turn out to be. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito tried to cage the ruling this way (PDF: 512KB/95 pages):

In any event, our decision in these cases is concerned solely with the contraceptive mandate. Our decision should not be understood to hold that an insurance coverage mandate must necessarily fall if it conflicts with an employer’s religious beliefs. Other coverage requirements, such as immunizations, may be supported by different interests (for example, the need to combat the spread of infectious diseases) and may involve different arguments about the least restrictive means of providing them.

The principal dissent raises the possibility that discrimination in hiring, for example on the basis of race, might be cloaked as religious practice to escape legal sanction. See post, at 32–33. Our decision today provides no such shield. The Government has a compelling interest in providing an equal opportunity to participate in the workforce without regard to race, and prohibitions on racial discrimination are precisely tailored to achieve that critical goal.

The federal government has expressed its compelling interest in prohibiting racial discrimination through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and several other laws promulgated by Congress and regulations by the Executive branch. Some states have anti-discrimination laws that cover sexual orientation, and a subset of those also cover gender identity. Those laws may provide some protections at the state level since the RFRA applies only to federal law, but it remains an inconsistent patchwork that varies state to state. Meanwhile, Congress has long failed to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and prior anti-discrimination proposals dating back to the 1970s. In fact, several LGBT-rights organizations are now dropping their support for ENDA because it would provide broad religious-based exemptions similar to the Arizona “Religious Freedom” bill that Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed this year. So since the federal government has not identified discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity as a compelling interest, it would seem to me that LGBT people will be made particularly vulnerable because of this decision. The principle dissent, written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, agrees:

Hobby Lobby and Conestoga surely do not stand alone as commercial enterprises seeking exemptions from generally applicable laws on the basis of their religious beliefs. See, e.g., Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, Inc ., 256 F. Supp. 941, 945 (SC 1966) (owner of restaurant chain refused to serve black patrons based on his religious beliefs opposing racial integration), aff ’d in relevant part and rev’d in part on other grounds, 377 F. 2d 433 (CA4 1967), aff ’d and modified on other grounds, 390 U. S. 400 (1968); In re Minnesota ex rel. McClure, 370 N. W. 2d 844, 847 (Minn.1985) (born-again Christians who owned closely held, for profit health clubs believed that the Bible proscribed hiring or retaining an “individua[l] living with but not married to a person of the opposite sex,” “a young, single woman working without her father’s consent or a married woman working without her husband’s consent,” and any person “antagonistic to the Bible,” including “fornicators and homosexuals” (internal quotation marks omitted)), appeal dismissed, 478 U. S. 1015 (1986); Elane Photography, LLC v. Willock, 2013–NMSC–040, ___ N. M. ___, 309 P. 3d 53 (for-profit photography business owned by a husband and wife refused to photograph a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony based on the religious beliefs of the company’s owners), cert. denied, 572 U. S. ___ (2014). Would RFRA require exemptions in cases of this ilk? And if not, how does the Court divine which religious beliefs are worthy of accommodation, and which are not? Isn’t the Court disarmed from making such a judgment given its recognition that “courts must not presume to determine . . . the plausibility of a religious claim”?

There is an overriding interest, I believe, in keeping the courts “out of the business of evaluating the relative merits of differing religious claims,” Lee, 455 U. S., at 263, n. 2 (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment), or the sincerity with which an asserted religious belief is held. Indeed, approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be “perceived as favoring one religion over another,” the very “risk the Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.” Ibid. The Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield by its immoderate reading of RFRA.

I think it’s noteworthy that Alito addressed the first objection in Ginsburg’s dissent concerning racial discrimination, but not the other examples. SCOTUSblog noticed that omission as well:

With respect to implications for other kinds of religious-based discrimination, the Court writes that racial discrimination in hiring will not be permitted under RFRA because “The Government has a compelling interest in providing equal opportunity to participate in the workforce without regard to race, and prohibitions on racial discrimination are precisely tailored to acheive that critical goal.” Note that this leave open the question of whether the Government has a similarly compelling interest in preventing discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation.

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