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North Carolina GOP petitions to intervene

Timothy Kincaid

October 9th, 2014

The Republican majority in the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives have filed a brief arguing that the ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which was denied certiorari by the Supreme Court, does not apply to their state. Because those crazy liberals in Virginia made concessions in court that the Republicans in the North Carolina legislature would never make, therefor their ban on same-sex marriage – unlike everyone else’s – should be upheld.

They are being represented by John Eastman, the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, who ran Attorney General in the Republican primary, winning 34%. Eastman is not exactly the most persuasive of legal minds and his involvement is likely to be an advantage to marriage equality proponents. You may recall him from his unbroken string of colossal losses in NOM’s battle to defy state political donor laws.

Should the judge write a big giant F in red ink across the face of their brief, they alternately want to be granted the right to appeal any ruling for marriage to the Fourth Circuit (who already ruled for equality), to the court en banc (good luck with that) and to the Supreme Court (which has already denied cert from this circuit).

NOM’s record

Timothy Kincaid

October 9th, 2014

Just for some perspective:

When the National Organization for Marriage was formed to oppose marriage equality in 2007, only two one state, Massachusetts and Connecticut, offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Today, seven years later, 27 states along with the nation’s capital offer marriage equality.

NOM was helpful in passing four state-based constitutional bans on same-sex marriages:

* California – has marriage equality
* Arizona – is in the Ninth Circuit and should have equality shortly
* Florida – ban has been found unconstitutional and is on appeal in the Eleventh Circuit
* North Carolina – is expected to issue marriage licenses quite soon

Estonia recognizes same-sex couples

Timothy Kincaid

October 9th, 2014

Estonia

Estonia is the northernmost of the Baltic states with about the same population and half the land mass as Maine. Bordered by Latvia and Russia (it’s a former soviet country), it does not have a strong history of support for its gay and lesbian residents.

However, Estonia appears to be taking steps towards Western Europe and away from Russia and her satellites. (ABC)

In Estonia, lawmakers voted 40-38 vote to approve a partnership act that recognizes the civil unions of all couples regardless of gender. Twenty-three lawmakers were absent or abstained in the third and final reading of the bill.

The new law will gives those in civil unions — heterosexual or gay — almost the same rights as married couples, including financial, social and health benefits provided by the government and legal protection for children. It does not give adoption rights for couples in such unions but does allow one partner to adopt the biological child of the other.

It comes into force in January 2016, after it has been signed by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves who supported the bill.

This is likely disappointing to Scott Lively who made Estonia, along with Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine and Belarus, a target for his exportation of anti-gay activism.

Kennedy lifts Nevada stay

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2014

Judge Kennedy has just lifted the stay on the Nevada portion of the Ninth Circuit’s mandate to implement their ruling on marriage equality.

Confused? You’re not alone.

But what this means is that Nevada will likely begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples this afternoon.

Idaho on temporary stay

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2014

While Nevada has joyfully cued the violins and baked the cakes, Governor Butch Otter in Nevada Idaho seems to have won a delay in his state’s implementation of marriage equality. The Butch Otter has appealed to the United States Supreme Court and the justice responsible for granting stay in the Ninth Circuit, Anthony Kennedy, has so granted. (Reuters)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on Wednesday temporarily blocked an appeals court ruling that struck down Idaho’s gay marriage ban.

The brief order issued by the court said that gay marriage supporters should file a response to the state’s emergency request by 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) on Thursday. The court will then decide whether to issue a more permanent stay. In the meantime, gay marriages in Idaho will not be able to proceed.

This may be but a formality until such time as briefs are filed and reviewed. And while this is disappointing and infuriating, part of our legal system is to allow all parties the right to be heard.

UPDATE: I should point out that the stay (should it be granted further life than tomorrow at 5 pm) is until the Ninth Circuit rules en banc – a larger group of judges – on the matter.


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North Carolina marriage ban struck down – UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2014

marriage 2014

From WYFF4:

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

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

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

UPDATE –

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

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

UPDATE –

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

Kennedy lifts Idaho stay

Timothy Kincaid

October 10th, 2014

marriage 2014

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

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

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

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

The Daily Agenda for Friday, October 10

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Legacy WalkLegacy Walk Dedications: Chicago, IL. If you’ve been looking for something to do in the Windy City this weekend, regular BTB reader, gay rights activist and Executive Director of the Legacy Project Victor Salvo alerts us to an interesting and informative event that will take place tomorrow afternoon on North Halsted Street. The Project will dedicate seven new plaques for what is billed as the “the world’s only outdoor museum walk celebrating the diverse accomplishments of the GLBT community.” That museum currently consists of twenty-three bronze plaques affixed to ten pairs of twenty-five foot art-deco pylons which mark the heart of Chicago’s LGBT community. Each plaque commemorates the life and work of notable LGBT people who have changed the world

This year’s bronze plaques will commemorate Audre Lorde, Cole Porter, Babe Didrikson, Fr. Mychal Judge, Dr. Sally Ride, David Kato, and the Stonewall Riot. The dedications begin tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. at the pylon located at 3311 N. Halsted. They will welcome each new plaque onto the street in a small ceremony conducted by youth participants in the Legacy Project Education Initiative (LPEI). The traveling celebration will move north toward the final dedication at 3707 N. Halsted. Participants may either meet at the first location and move as a group up Halsted, or gather at the pylon of their choosing to await the arrival of the co-celebrants. The ceremonies will wrap up at about 5:00 p.m., then move to the rooftop of the Center on Halsted for a post-ceremony pizza party. Click here for more information.

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

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

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

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From GPU News, April 1978, page 25.

From GPU News, April 1978, page 25.

Little Jim’s started it all when it opened in 1975 as the very first gay bar on Chicago’s famed North Halsted street. The tiny hole-in-the-wall was soon joined by several other establishments catering to LGBT people and within just a few years, Boystown was born. As the years went by, it was often overshadowed by the larger and flashier establishments that sprouted up around it. The bar’s original owner, Little Jim Gates, sold the joint just last summer, but the new owners vowed to keep running it more or less as it was been for the past thirty-nine years.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
65 YEARS AGO: Newsweek’s “Queer People”: 1949. In the mid-twentieth century, reactions to homosexuality fell into two camps. On one side were those who held that such “sexual perversion” was a criminal act which should be treated harshly by the courts. The other side, which saw themselves as more enlightened, saw homosexuality as a mental illness which merited pity rather than punishment. On October 10, 1949, Newsweek published an editorial titled “Queer People,” which came down squarely in the first camp:

The sex pervert, whether a homosexual, an exhibitionist, or even a dangerous sadist, is too often regarded merely as a ‘queer’ person who never hurts anyone but himself. Then the mangled form of one of his victims focuses public attention to the degenerate’s work. And newspaper headlines flare for days over accounts and feature articles packed with sensational details of the most dastardly and horrifying crimes.

The editorial reviewed The Sexual Criminal, a book by J. Paul DeRiver who headed the Los Angeles Police Department’s Sex Offenses Bureau. Newsweek lauded the “factual scientific book” with 43 case histories, including “lots of very queer people” including “the sadistic pedophile,” “zoophiles, psychopaths who performed sadistic acts on animals, and the necrophiles, who …commit acts of moral degeneracy upon or in the presence of dead bodies.” Eugene D. Williams, a California “special assistant attorney general,” wrote the introduction to the book, in which he warned that “the semihysterical, foolishly sympathetic, and wholly unscientific attitude of any individual engaged in social work and criminology to regard sex perverts as poor unfortunates who are suffering from disease and cannot help themselves, has a tendency to feed their ego.” To which Newsweek added:

A sterner attitude is required, if the degenerate is to be properly treated and cured. Williams suggests that the sex pervert be treated, not as a coddled patient, but as a particularly virulent type of criminal. “To punish him,” he concludes, “he should be placed in an institution where the proper kind of rehabilitory work can be done so that, of capable of being brought to the realization of the error of his ways, he may be brought back to society prepared to live as a normal, law-abiding individual, rather than turned out as he now is from the penitentiary, confirmed in his perversion.

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

50 YEARS AGO: East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) Hosts Conference Calling for Direct Action: 1964. The early major “Homophile” gay-rights groups established in the 1950s saw their main purpose was not so much to advocate for changes in the law which criminalized same-sex relationships in all fifty states, but to confront the regular police abuses and day-to-day acts of discrimination which effectively kept just about everyone in the closet. The tactic those groups espoused was “education.” It was thought that by educating the general public about homosexuality and gay people, the public would come around to accepting gay people as equals. The Daughters of Bilitis’s statement of purpose, which appeared in the front of every issue of The Ladder, included the “Education of the public at large through acceptance first of the individual, leading to an eventual breakdown of erroneous taboos and prejudices.” Likewise, when the Mattachine Society was first founded in 1950, it considered it part of its mission to “EDUCATE … for the purpose of informing and enlightening the public at large.” ONE, Inc., which published the first nationally-distributed gay magazine in America, considered education so important that it established the ONE Institute of Homophile Studies.

One problem, though, was that the “education” was not always particularly uplifting.  For one, the goal of education was supposed to be “understanding” of the “problems” that homosexuals faced. But in many of the early homophile literature, one could easily replace the word “understanding” with “pity,” and not alter the view being expressed one bit. Consequently, the educational approach tended to be one that valued being “reasonable” and “impartial ” over carrying any significantly useful information. And homophile organizations, eager to prove their reasonableness and impartiality, often invited speakers from “both sides” of an issue — which meant that gays and lesbians attending homophile conferences often had to sit through lawyers, mental health professionals and religious leaders explaining that gay people were criminal, sick, or sinful. As Barbara Gittings (see Jul 31) later commented, “At first we were so grateful just to have people — anybody — pay attention to us that we listened to everything they said, no matter how bad it was…. It was essential for us to go through this before we could arrive at what we now consider our much more sensible attitudes.”

By 1964, those more sensible attitudes were on display when four organizations — the Daughters of Bilities, the Janus Society of Philadelphia, and the Mattachine Societies of New York and Washington, D.C., met in the nation’s capital for the second conference of the East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO), a loose confederation formed in 1962. Attendance was light: only about a hundred people showed up at the Sheraton Park Hotel, thanks to ECHO’s difficulty in getting the word out about where the event would take place. The Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW), which was hosting the conference, saw three other hotels cancel their bookings and three newspapers refusing to run ads for the conference. Those who showed up were charged up and impatient with the old ways of doing things. The DoB’s newsletter, The Ladder, set the scene:

“I’m an activist,” said a handsome young man present at the ECHO conference for 1964. “I’ve read nearly 75 books in the New York Mattachine Society library, and I’m fed up with reading on the subject of homosexuality.” His statement seemed to typify the attitude pervading this serious conference.

Any disappointment over the small attendance (less than 100 persons) could be offset by the fact that this was a down-to-business meeting attended primarily by those dedicated to immediate action. It was a gathering of men and women impatient to remedy the discriminations against the homosexual citizen in our society.

We talked with a long-time friend of one of the sponsoring organizations, and his remarks confirmed our view. “A few years ago,” he said, “ours was a sweeter, clubbier, less insistent organization. Now there seems to be a militancy about the new groups and new leaders. There’s a different mood.”

Signs of that different mood were everywhere, beginning with MSW’s Robert King’s prescient keynote address. He said that gay people were asking for “the rights, and all the rights, afforded the heterosexual. We are still in the asking stage. We will soon reach the demanding stage. (… A) dormant army is beginning to stir.” J.C. Hodges, president of the Mattachine Society of New York, challenged the prevailing timidity of previous homophile leaders to get involved with politics, declaring that “politics is everybody’s business.” He urged attendees to throw themselves into established political organizations. “Involve yourself if  you are to have any voice on your own behalf.”

The African-American civil rights movement, which was celebrating its successful March on Washington a year earlier followed by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that summer, was held up as an example for gay activists to follow. A lawyer from the ACLU advised, “I wanted to emphasize today the importance of recognizing your solidarity with other minority groups and your vital stake in maintenance and development of a society with freedom and justice for all.” During a panel discussion about legal issues moderated by MSW’s Frank Kameny (see May 21) asked if the panelists would be willing to form a board to look at creating a “multi-attorney approached to planned legal strategy” in challenging anti-gay laws. The panel agreed, with the National Capital Area ACLU chairman, David Carliner, recommending the establishment of a legal defense fund modeled after the NAACP’s.

The conference also had a bit of fun at the expense of Congressman John Dowdy (D-TX), who had introduced legislation in the House to strip MSW of its charitable status (see Aug 8, Aug 9). That bill led to Kameny becoming the first gay man in history to address a Congressional committee when the House Subcommittee for the District of Columbia held hearings on Dowdy’s bill. ECHO issued a cordial citation in Dowdy’s honor. “We want to acknowledge that Rep. Dowdy caused more attention to be called to the homosexual problem than anyone else,” a spokesman told the Washington Post. The Post also reported, “A spokesman for the Congressman said Dowdy has not received an invitation, wasn’t going to attend in any case and viewed the award as an attempt to ‘embarrass’ him.”

But if you really want to see the stirrings of what we would recognize as the modern gay rights movement, you would look to another panel discussion — a debate, really — between Frank Kameny and Dr. Kurt Konietzko, a psychologist and member of the Philadelphia Board of Parole, which questioned the entire raison d’etre of the homophile organizations until then. The topic was “Education or Legislation,” although The Ladder said that “‘Act or Teach?’ might better describe the alternatives.” On the “act” side, naturally, was Kameny, who argued that emphasizing education, as homophile groups had done, relies on the “naive assumption that in matters of ingrained prejudice, the majority of people are rational and amenable to reason. They aren’t. Prejudice is an emotional commitment, not an intellectual one, and is little if at all touched by considerations of reason. Study upon study…has shown this.” The Ladder continued:

Dr. Kameny cited one recent study which he said “showed that tolerance is only slightly promoted by more information, that communication of facts is generally ineffective against predisposition.” Large numbers of people “hate our guts,” he warned. In terms of their deep prejudices in this area, they are “uneducable and noninformable.” Anyone doubting this need only read the transcript of the Dowdy subcommittee hearings on HR 5990. “That’s entrenched prejudice in very high places!”

He pointed out that “the Negro tried the education/information approach for 90 years and got almost nowhere. In the next ten years, by a vigorous social-protest, social-action, civil-liberties type of program, he achieved in essence everything for which he had been fighting. Let not this lesson be wasted upon us.”

Dr. Konietzko countered that he believed education was essential to “the basic human question of how we get people to live together harmoniously. He also noted that educators, particularly religious leaders, were “charged specifically with instilling in the young the attitudes of the larger society … Prejudices are learned. And if they are learned, they are taught. And if you can change the teaching, then you can change society.” Konietzko cautioned that pushing “aggressively” would result in a backlash. “The more you threaten, the less they’re able to think straight, and the less willing they become to grant you anything.” He also recommended that homophile groups rely on outside experts to get their messages across — even though, as one audience member pointed out, “the ‘experts’ are constantly making pronouncements to the public which contradict the subjective knowledge of so many homosexuals.” That’s when Kameny delivered what would be his signature rallying cry for decades to come:

A place to start is for the homophile organizations to realize that in the last analysis — and I am knowingly oversimplifying — we are the experts and the authorities. And we had better start educating the public to the fact that when they want reliable information on homosexuals and homosexuality, they come not to the psychiatrists, not to the ministers, and not to all the rest — they come to us. (Applause) We are coming to be more and more called on to speak in our own behalf, and it’s time we started a coordinated program to do so. We must get across to the public that we are the ones to come to, not the psychiatrists or all the rest with their utter lack of information and their distorted viewpoints.

Five months later, Kameny’s rallying cry would inspire a groundbreaking resolution approved by the Mattachine Society of Washington, D.C., which declared that “in the absence of valid evidence to the contrary, homosexuality is not a sickness, disturbance, or other pathology in any sense…” (see Mar 4). Gay activism then entered a new era as ECHO and its member organizations embarked on a string of pickets in New York (see  Apr 18), Philadelphia (see Jul 4) and Washington D.C. (see Apr 17, May 29, Jun 26, Jul 31, Oct 23) calling for equal rights for gays and lesbians.

[Sources: Warren D. Adkins, Kay Tobin (Kay Lahusen). "ECHO Report '64, Part 1: Sidelights of ECHO." The Ladder 9, no. 4 (January 1965): 4-7. See Jan 5 for Kay Lahusen's bio.

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

Kay Tobin (Kay Lahusen), Barbara Gittings. "ECHO Report '64, Part 4: 'Act or Teach'?" The Ladder 9, no. 5 (February 1965): 13-17.

Jean White. "Homophile Groups Argue Civil Liberties." The Washington Post (October 11, 1964): B10.]

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?

Marriage finally starts in Nevada

Timothy Kincaid

October 9th, 2014

For reasons unknown, the injunction reversing the lower court ruling is sitting on Judge James Mahan’s desk. He doesn’t have a lot of leeway in response; he can sign it or … well, considering a mandate has been issued, that’s his only option. And the circuit court ordered that this injunction be issued “promptly”.

So far, Mahan has not done so.

However, the District Attorney for Carson City (the state capital) is tired of waiting. He has authorized the clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Word of this will get out and either a local couple will apply before the office closes or else – should Mahan continue to delay and the Clark County clerk not follow Carson City’s lead – someone will drive all night from Las Vegas to be in Carson City first thing in the morning.

UPDATE - Finally, around 5:00 pm, Judge Mahan issued the injunction and marriage licenses have now been issued to same-sex couples.

West Virginia now to issue marriage licenses – UPDATED

Timothy Kincaid

October 9th, 2014

marriage 2014

Dark purple – states which have marriage equality
Light purple – states in which the circuit court has ruled for equality but which have not yet been ordered to provide marriage equality

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey (R) has determined that as a result of the Supreme Court’s denial of Fourth Circuit certiorari, the state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. The state will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Also in Nevada, the remaining supporters of the ban, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage has pulled it’s request for a stay (it had joined with Idaho’s Butch Otter in calling for an en banc hearing). This would, I believe, clear the state to begin issuing marriage licenses as well.

UPDATE – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D) of West Virginia has directed the state agencies to comply with marriage equality. In Nevada, word is that the first same-sex marriages will occur today.

UPDATE - county clerks in Nevada are waiting on the federal judge to issue the injunction.

The judge in the case, Robert C. Jones, decided that there was no way that he could possibly personally sign an order allowing same-sex marriage so he recused himself. Interestingly he did not disclose his strong bias when he heard the case nor admit that he could not possibly find for the plaintiffs and did not recuse himself at that time. Judge Jones’ choice to hear a case over which he could only find one conclusion is the most obvious example of judicial activism which I’ve ever observed.

The result is that the case had to be reassigned and now the state awaits the replacement judge’s signature. Legal advocates insist that this signature is not strictly needed, but the state appears to want it’s I’s dotted and T’s crossed.

UPDATE - the first marriage has occurred in West Virginia.

Couples are anxiously awaiting the signature of the judge in Nevada. No one knows what is taking so long.

The Daily Agenda for Thursday, October 9

Jim Burroway

October 9th, 2014

TODAY’S AGENDA:
Nevada Waits For Marriage. It’s been quite a roller coaster ride for Nevada’s same-sex couples the past two days. First, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared Nevada’s ban on marriage equality unconstitutional, and issued a surprise mandate ordering officials in Nevada and Idaho to begin issuing marriage licenses. Then Idaho went to Justice Anthony Kennedy, who oversees the Ninth, and asked him to overturn the mandate. He did, but because the mandate covered Nevada as well, that put a stop to marriages there. Then Kennedy realized what happened and modified his order to overturn the Ninth’s mandate for Idaho only, leaving Nevada free to start marrying. So you’d think Nevada would start handing out marriage licenses, wouldn’t you? Well, not yet, because even though the Governor and Attorney General have said they won’t appeal the Ninth’s ruling, the Nevada group supporting the state’s ban on gay marriage, the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, filed for a stay and asked that the court’s mandate be rescinded. In response, the Ninth asked all the parties, including state officials, to respond to the coalition’s motion by 5 p.m. Thursday.

This is obviously a Hail Mary that the coalition is trying to put off. Based on the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling that sent Prop 8 back to California because the interveners there didn’t have standing, it’s equally certain that the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage won’t have standing also since the state is no longer contesting the ruling. But procedures are procedures, and the Coalition has a right to put what is likely to be futile arguments before the Circuit court. This will have the effect of pushing out marriage equality for Nevadans until at least Friday.

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

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

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

TODAY’S AGENDA is brought to you by:

From Michael's Thing, April 29, 1974, page 35.

From Michael’s Thing, April 29, 1974, page 35.

Michael Giammetta, publisher of the weekly New York gay bar guide Michael’s Thing, wrote this review of The Alley in 1974:

Just ask anyone in Queens where they go when they want to have a royal time dancing and partying, and they’ll mention The Alley Opened over a year ago, this swinging bar is already a legend. The Alley takes its picturesque name from nearby Vaseline Alley, Queen’s version of Christopher Street where the cruising goes on like crazy. But the action on the streets can’t hold a candle to the sophisticated love-looks exchanged on the dance floor of this exciting bar.

“We never have to go to the city anymore,” a group of attractive boys told me. “We have everything we want right here in Queens. The disc jockeys play the latest and greatest rock hits and everybody is beautiful and together. The boys knew what they were talking about. Unlike many bars out in the boroughs, The Alley was filled with a lot of hip kids in the latest fashions. Here one could find the greased flat-top, rolled up jeans, and muscle shirts of the fifties freak-out movement so popular with flamboyant Manhattanites. But if that’s not your style, enough handsome hippies, glamorous boys, and dapper men frequent this bar to keep everyone happy. …The Alley gets four stars. One for fun. One for flair. One for frivolity. And one for fantabulous!

The Alley appears to have closed sometime in the first half of 1976. The address today is the home of a branch of the Habib American Bank, a subsidiary of prominent Pakistani bank.

TODAY IN HISTORY:
South Africa Strikes Down Sodomy Law: 1998. South Africa’s penal code defined sodomy as a Schedule 1 offense, like murder or rape, and was punishable by life imprisonment. Another law, Section 20A of the Sexual Offenses Act, which outlawed any behavior “at a party” — defined as a gathering of two or more men — that would be an invitation to sexual activity. Under that law, any hint of a proposition or even a glance, could lead to an arrest. The laws had been mostly ignored — South African cities had been host to Gay Pride parades for more than a decade — but that didn’t stop two prisoners in Cape Town from being charged with sodomy after engaging in consensual sex in 1997. But South Africa’s Constitutional Court responded to a suit brought by the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality and struck down the country’s harsh sodomy law along with Section 20A of the Sexual Offenses Act.

The ruling, written by Judge Lori Ackerman with a concurring ruling by Judge Albie Sachs, held that the decision violated South Africa’s new post-Apartheid 1996 constitution which made South Africa one of the first countries in the world to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The justices ruled that the decision was “part of a growing acceptance of difference in an increasingly open and pluralistic South Africa,” which included gays already serving openly in the military and the police force providing domestic partnership benefits for same-sex couples. The ruling African National Congress had earlier decided not to oppose the lawsuit. The ruling was made retroactive to the adoption of an interim constitution of 1994, which also prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS:
Simeon Solomon: 1840-1905. When he was about ten years old, Solomon, the youngest child of a prominent London Jewish family, began to learn to paint from his older brother. A few year later, he attended Carey’s Art Academy, and later, as a student at the Royal Academy, he became a prominent member of the Pre-Raphaelite Circle. He held several acclaimed exhibitions at the Royal Academy between 1858 and 1872, with many of his paintings drawing from his Jewish background with scenes from the Hebrew Bible and ordinary Jewish life. His paintings also explored affections between men. In 1871 Simeon Solomon privately published his erotic poem “A Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep,” and the images he evoked in the poem would re-appear in his paintings for the rest of his career. John Addington Symonds would note that the themes of same-sex love in the poem was “the key to the meaning of his drawings.”

The Sleepers, and the One that Watcheth (1870, click to enlarge)

Solomon’s career though was ruined in 1873 when he was arrested at a public toilet and fined £100 (about £4,600 or UD$7,400 today) for attempted sodomy. He was arrested again the next year in Paris and was sentenced to three months in prison. He never recovered. From then on, he was hobbled by alcoholism and poverty. He would pass his remaining years in and out of the workhouse where he continued to paint, but both the quality and quantity of his work was severely impaired by his drinking. He finally collapsed in central London and died of bronchitis and alcoholism in 1905. Poet and critic Arthur Symons, on learning of Solomon’s death, lamented, “There is nothing in this world so pitiful as a shipwreck of a genius.”

70 YEARS AGO: Nona Hendryx: 1944. The Trenton, New Jersey-born singer, producer, songwriter, author and actress was one third (with Patti LaBelle and Sarah Dash) of the trio Labelle, whose greatest hit was 1974′s “Lady Marmalade.” Beginning in 1977, Hendryx embarked on a solo career, but struggled to repeat the success of LaBelle. She wasn’t without work though, as she provided background vocals for the Talking Heads and became a part of New York’s underground rock, R&B and dance scene. As the eighties progressed, she collaborated with Keith Richards, Peter Gabriel and Prince. In 2001, she came out as bisexual in an interview with The Advocate, and added gay rights to her repertoire.

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?

Stay on North Carolina lifted – CORRECTED

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2014

marriage 2014

Y’all will be excited to know that following Monday’s denial of certiorari by the Supreme Court of the appeal in marriage cases heard by the Fourth Circuit, Chief U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen, Jr. has lifted the stay on same-sex marriage licenses in North Carolina.

We’re also hearing word that marriages licenses may be available in one county in Kansas.

UPDATE -

It appears that the stay was not on marriage case rulings, but rather on the advancement of the cases. Thus marriage equality has NOT come to North Carolina. Yet.

What a Mess (Updated)

Jim Burroway

October 8th, 2014

The Ninth Circuit really stepped into it when, to everyone’s surprise, it preemptively issued a mandate requiring Idaho and Nevada to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples after ruling that those marriage bans were unconstitutional. As I understand it, mandates like this are typically a last resort act, issued after the winning parties went back home and were unsuccessful in getting the legal entities there to implement the Appeals Court ruling.

In Idaho’s case, that would have meant going to Ninth Circuit panel that issued the stay and ask it to rescind it. That would have given lawyers for Idaho’s Gov. Butch Otter a chance to have their day in court, lodge their intention to appeal and argue that the stay should remain in effect. Otter wasn’t given that day in court, and so it’s pretty easy to see why Kennedy would have slapped the Ninth for short-circuiting the process and overturn the mandate.

As for Nevada, the ordinary path would have been for lawyers for same-sex couples to go back to Federal District Judge Robert C. Jones and petition him to order state officials to begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Jones had upheld that state’s ban on same-sex marriage in 2012. Jones ordinarily would have had two options. He could have issued the order, or he could have refused to do so. The second option would have seemed unlikely, since the State of Nevada had already said that they weren’t going appeal. But if he had refused to issue such an order, then that ordinary path would have had those lawyers go back to the Ninth to ask for a mandate.

But because the Ninth issued its preemptive mandate on its own initiative, county clerks across Nevada were preparing to begin issuing marriage licenses this morning. But then, Idaho Gov. Otter’s lawyers went to Kennedy to get the mandate overturned, and since the Ninth Circuit combined the two cases into a single mandate “for purposes of disposition,” Kennedy’s overturning of Idaho’s mandate also meant that he overturned Nevada’s mandate as well. Which means that Nevada same-sex couples this morning suddenly found themselves subject to the whims of an Idaho governor, all because the Ninth Circuit’s brash action — and because the Ninth found it too bothersome to type up two separate papers instead of one.

So now the Nevada lawyers were back doing what they ordinarily would have done anyway. They went to Judge Jones and asked him to enforce the Ninth Circuit’s ruling overturning his 2012 ruling and striking down Nevada’s marriage equality ban. Remember those two options I said he had? I left out a third option, the one that he ultimately took: he recused himself this morning and referred the case to the district’s chief judge for reassignment.

Update: Marriages are back on in Nevada.

Justice Kennedy Halts Marriages In Idaho (And Maybe Nevada)

Jim Burroway

October 8th, 2014

In a very surprising move in a week of surprises, Justice Anthony Kennedy stayed (PDF: 40KB/1 page) the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ mandate requiring Idaho to begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The stay is “pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court” and orders lawyers for same-sex couples to file a response by 5:00 Thursday.

There are a couple of things to think about here. Narrowly, there’s some speculation about whether there was a procedural error when the Ninth combined the Idaho and Nevada cases when it issued its mandate requiring the two states to begin issuing marriage licenses. The fact that Kennedy’s order referenced both the Nevada and Idaho cases may be a possible hint. But more broadly, while the Supreme Court on Monday decided to turn away cases in five states, it doesn’t mean that a sixth state doesn’t still have a right to appeal. Who knows? Maybe Idaho just might have those compelling arguments that the other cases somehow lacked. I doubt it, but it’s still their legal right to give it a shot.

While Kennedy acted on a request from Idaho, it’s unclear whether his order affects marriages in Nevada as well. Nevada already announced that they would not be seeking an appeal.

Idaho Marriages May Begin Today But Governor Seeks Stay

Jim Burroway

October 8th, 2014

Ada County (Boise) Clerk Chris Rich told the Idaho Statesman that he’s ready to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples when the courthouse opens at 8 a.m. MDT. Rich said that he was acting on instructions from the Idaho Attorney General’s office, which told him to continue issuing licenses “until he hears otherwise.”

That was last night. Early this morning, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter filed a motion with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking a stay of the court’s ruling that struck down Idaho’s marriage equality ban as unconstitutional:

“Each same-sex marriage performed will be contrary to the interests of the state and its citizens in being able to define marriage through ordinary democratic channels,” wrote Thomas C. Perry, counsel for the governor, in one of three filings this morning.

A stay would allow the state to seek a review by the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals of Tuesday’s ruling by a three-member panel. Perry wrote the state is also prepared to press the matter before the United States Supreme Court.

Whether marriages will actually begin in Idaho this morning is anybody’s guess right now.

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