The Daily Agenda for Saturday, June 9
June 9th, 2012
TODAY’S AGENDA (Ours):
Pride Celebrations This Weekend: Albany, NY; Anchorage, AK; Athens, Greece; Birmingham, AL; Blackpool, UK; Bologna, Italy; Boston, MA; Bromsgrove, UK; Brooklyn, NY; Cheyenne, WY; Des Moines, IA; Edmunton, AB; El Paso, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Kalamazoo, MI; Key West, FL; Huntington, NY; Los Angeles, CA; Milwaukee, WI; Olympia, WA; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Prince Albert, SK; San Antonio, TX; São Paulo, Brazil; Saskatoon, SK; Split, Croatia; Spokane, WA; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Washington, DC.
Other Events This Weekend: Connecticut Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Hartford, CT; Razzle Dazzle Dallas, Dallas, TX; Sierra Stampede Gay Rodeo, Rio Linda, CA; and Tel Aviv LGBT International Film Festival, Tel Aviv, Israel.
TODAY’S AGENDA (Theirs):
Maine’s “No Special Rights PAC” To Officially (Re)launch: Lewiston, ME. Yeah, I know. Conservative gadflies Michael Heath and Paul Madore already launched their “no sodomy-based marriage” outfit once before last April, but I guess nobody was paying enough attention, so they’re doing it again. Their press release reiterates their their campaign message against Maine’s upcoming ballot initiative to provide marriage equality, using language which we can only hope will become the loudest message for their side:
A hallmark of their campaigns is a willingness to be frank about both their Christian convictions, and the moral aspects of the so-called “gay” rights movement. Heath and Madore are known for their candor and directness in their public tactics, and use of rhetoric.
This is why they have decided to inject the idea of sodomy and sodomy based marriage into this campaign. For the first time in Maine a campaign will directly link the goals of the so-called “gay” movement to the evil and destructive act of sodomy.
Heath is ashamed of the fact that he stayed away from the use of that word, and especially the word “sodomite” while serving as leader of the Christian Civic League of Maine. Sodomite is used many times in the popular King James Version of the Bible to describe the practitioners of sodomy. It is a legitimate word. “We’ve allowed forces in our society aligned with soft-selling the condemnation of sex outside of marriage to dictate our tone, style and tactics,” said Heath. “Those days are over.”
Michael Heath was forced out of the Christian Civic League in 2009 because anti-gay activists thought that his extreme rhetoric would wreck their plans to ban marriage at the ballot box that year. He left, and they prevailed. But now he’s back, he’s refusing to go away, and I couldn’t be happier. Their (re)launch will take place this morning at 10:30 a.m. on the steps of Lewiston City Hall. I don’t know about you, but I hope reporters from every newspaper, radio station and television channel in the Pine Tree State shows up.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Newsweek on “Homosexuals in Uniform”: 1947. “Although Army regulations strictly forbade the drafting of homosexuals, scores of these inverts managed to slip through induction centers during the second world war. Between 3,000 and 4,000 were discharged for this abnormality; others were released as neuropsychiatric cases. Last week, with most of the records on homosexuals tabulated, Army medical officers, for the first time, summed up their strange story.”
That strange story, in retrospect, was that gay people came from all walks of life. But in 1947, neither the Army nor Newsweek in its June 9, 1947 story could wrap their heads around that fact. Gays on average were found to be intelligent, not particularly feminine, and “as a whole, these men were law-abiding and hard working. In spite of nervous, unstable and often hysterical temperaments they performed admirably as workers. Many tried to be good soldiers.” If gay soldiers were “nervous,” that undoubtedly came from the consequences of being found out. “Once this abnormality was detected, the man was usually evacuated by the unit doctors to a general hospital where he received psychiatric treatment while a military board decided whether or not he was reclaimable. A good number begged to be cured, but doctors usually doubted their sincerity, and recommended discharge.”
But being discharged was far from the end to these soldiers’ problems. During the first half of the war, they were brought up on court-martial, punished and dishonorably discharged. But by 1943, courts-martial were overwhelmed by the rising caseload, so the Army decided to let them go with an administrative “blue” discharge — neither honorable or dishonorable, and so named for the color of paper they were printed on. The suspiciously vague nature of blue discharges made it very difficult when these soldiers hit the job market. In an economy where nearly everyone served and the vast majority could report honorable discharges to their prospective employers, these blue discharges stood out. The Veterans Administration also routinely denied benefits to blue discharge holders, despite the law’s explicit language stating that only dishonorable discharges were grounds for denial of benefits. As of July 1, 1947, the situation was about to get worse: “Instead of leaving the service with the vague and protective ‘blue’ discharge, the homosexuals who had not been guilty of a definite office would receive an ‘undesirable’ discharge.”
Congress Allows Indefinite Confinement of “Sexual Psychopaths” in Washington, D.C.: 1948. The nation’s capital had experienced explosive growth through the New Deal and World War II. And in the relatively short time period, the sleepy Southern town became a major bustling East Coast city, with all of the attendant problems and anxieties which comes with rapid urban growth. Among those anxieties were worries over a declining moral environment in the growing city. In response, Congress passed and the President Harry Truman signed Public Law 615 on June 9, 1948 which provided for the indefinite interment and treatment for “sexual psychopaths” in the District. (Before D.C. was given Home Rule with an elected mayor and council in 1973, the district was ruled directly by Congress and administered by a three-person appointed commission.) “Sexual Psychopath” was defined as a:
“person, not insane, who by a course of repeated misconduct in sexual matters has evidenced such lack of power to control his sexual impulses as to be dangerous to other persons because he is likely to attack or otherwise inflict injury, loss, pain, or other evil on the objects of desire.”
The act specifically excluded rape or assault with intent to rape. Those charges were handled as normal criminal complaints. But according to this new law, the US Attorney was empowered to initiate proceedings against anyone else — even if they hadn’t been charged with a crime — to have them committed to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital until the superintendent “finds that he has sufficiently recovered so as not to be dangerous to other person.”
The law’s wording suggested the aim was to keep dangerous people off the streets, but the vague definition of “sexual psychopath” left the door open to all sorts of abuse. According to a paper read at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in 1950, the law’s reach naturally extended to gay men in consensual relationships. Dr. Francis Tartaglino of St. Elizabeth reported that as of March 1, 1950, twenty-four patients had been admitted to the hospital’s maximum security ward under this new law, “including 2 non-coercive homosexuals and 1 aggressive sodomist.” Nothing further was reported of the “non-coercive homosexuals.”
Cole Porter: 1891. American songwriters could match the sophistication, wit, and discreet naughtiness of Let’s Do It (1928), You Do Something To Me (1929), Love for Sale (1930), Anything Goes (1934), Let’s Misbehave (1937), Well Did You Evah! (1939) or Too Darn Hot (1948). That barely scratches the surface of Porter’s musical output. He was born to a wealthy family in Peru, Indiana, and after graduating from an exclusive prep school, he studied law, first at Yale (where he wrote two of Yale’s football fight songs that are still played today), then at Harvard for his graduate studies. But after finally deciding that he was more interested in music, he left Harvard Law and enrolled in Harvard’s music program. In 1917, he moved to Paris to lend his hand at the war effort, and where his luxury Paris apartment became the scene of lavish parties.
That was where he met Linda Thomas, a rich Kentucky divorced socialite who was eight years his senior. She was reportedly aware of Porters homosexuality — his affair with Ballet Russes star Borish Koncho in 1925 wasn’t much of a secret — but they both found marriage mutually advantageous. For Porter, a wife like Linda afforded a respectable heterosexual front, and for Linda, Porter’s success and growing fame only enhanced her social position. And besides, he was genuinely kind to her, which was very unlike her abusive first husband.
In 1928, Porter returned to Broadway, where he found considerable success and offers from Hollywood. The Porters moved there in 1935, but Linda didn’t appreciate Cole’s increasingly open dalliances with other men. She moved back to their home in Paris, and Porter became about as openly closeted as any other Hollywood A-gay. A severe horse riding accident in 1937, which left Porter with a permanently-crippling leg injury, brought the Porters back together, but they reconciled with an apparently renewed understanding. Linda was more than just a beard to Porter: by all accounts they were very close, at least in a spiritual or emotional sense. Yet throughout their marriage, Porter also had significant relationships with several men, including Boston socialite Howard Sturges, architect Ed Tauch (who inspired “Easy to Love”), choreographer Nelson Barclift (who inspired “You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To”), actor Robert Bray, and longtime companion Ray Kelly, to whose children Porter left half of his royalties when he died in 1964. (Linda preceded him in death ten years earlier.) Porter’s life was significantly de-gayed in the 2004 biopic De-Lovely: The Cole Porter Story with Kevin Kline inthe starring role. William McBrien’s 1998 biography however provides a much more complete picture of Porter’s life.
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?
Email of the Day
April 30th, 2012
During my lifetime I have witnessed the descent from Playboy into the abyss of online porn. I started my ministry understanding that were Martin Luther here today he would fight the baby killers and the sodomites. He would understand the times. He would see clearly that Satan is pushing most effectively on the sexual morals of our generation. That is where the fight for righteousness is most fierce. He would not shrink from that battle, and adopt the language of the other side.
I fought to keep the (Christian Civic League of Maine) on the bleeding edge of the “gay” fight from 1994 to 2009, the year I resigned. I watched our finances remain somewhat stable year-to-year. But the leadership of the evangelical movement started to weaken, and then ultimately divide, as I continued my relentless advocacy to keep the “gay” fight as the League’s number one priority.
I felt my leadership was justified at the League until it became clear to me that the pastors had decided to follow someone else. To quote from a letter I received from a key supporter and friend just before I resigned, I “lost my momentum.”
Man didn’t put me at the League. Jesus Christ put me there. There is no doubt in my mind that he put me there to confront the sodomy movement. I am now convinced it is my fault that Maine experienced twenty years of evenly split statewide voting on sodomy.
I never should have put on the suit and blow dried my hair. I never should have tried to use my image, and the image of those around me, to win the battle. I always should have trusted God more than I did.
…The truth about the vote this November is that it isn’t a battle between nice people who happen to disagree. It is not important that we respect the devil. It is important that we condemn him, and those who wish to use the sexual instinct in humanity for their own ends.
Michael Heath was forced out of the Christian Civic League in 2009 because anti-gay activists thought that his extreme rhetoric would wreck their pans to ban marriage at the ballot box that year. He left, and they prevailed. Heath went on to become board chair of Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth (an SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group) and a state campaign director for Ron Paul. Heath is now back in Maine, where he vows to press his crusade against “sodomy-based marriage.” If that becomes the tag line for our opponents, then the campaign to re-legalize marriage equality this November gets way, way easier.
Marriage Opponents in Maine Will Only Make Our Work Easier
April 9th, 2012
Remember when I said that anti-gay activist Mike Heath’s return to Maine was great news for advocates of marriage equality? Heath and Paul Madore announced plans for a news conference on the campus of the University of Maine. Their press release, I presume, tells you what their message will be:
“It’s time to get serious with society on the issue of homosexuality and the practical effects that are very harmful to society that this distorted and perverted lifestyle will have. It’s time to take the gloves off,” said Paul Madore. “Good people just keep moving the line back regarding homosexuality. But not anymore.”
Madore continued, “Maine people are coming together to say ‘enough is enough.’ Marriage does not belong to homosexuals. It never has and it never will. Even if people get tired of saying no, and end up caving on the issue.”
“On that note,” said Madore, “The only reason why the number of supporters for same sex ‘marriage’ may be increasing is because people are sick and tired. Homosexuals have made people sick and tired. Homosexuals have absolutely nothing good to contribute to family life, which is what marriage is all about. A sterile union (between same sex couples) is never in need of marriage, and has nothing good to contribute to marriage or family life – absolutely nothing.”
And sure enough, Madore and Heath lived up to their promise:
The men distributed pledges to passers-by that ask potential voters to oppose “sodomy-based marriage” in November and contribute to the political action committee.
I do hope “sodomy-based marriage” remains their talking point all the way up to the election. I even hope they can get TV air-time. If they become the face of the opposition to marriage equality, they’ll end up having about as much success as Scott Lively had back in the old Measure 9 days in Oregon.
Update: It only gets better. ThinkProgress has a copy of the pledge. Items 3 and 11 are priceless:
3. Use the term “Sodomy Based Marriage” and avoid the deceptive terms “same sex or gay marriage.”
11. Pray that God will deliver our State and Country from this attack by demonic force, and that marriage between man and woman will be restored to its rightful place of honor, to the glory of Almighty God.
Michael Heath Returns To Maine
March 22nd, 2012
Michael Heath, an anti-gay radical and former head of the Christian Civic League of Maine, has announced that he is forming a No Special Rights PAC to oppose the November ballot proposal to re-legalize marriage equality.
This is great news. Heath is so radical and off the charts, that he was prevailed upon to resign in 2009 because he was too much of a “lightning rod” when anti-gay activists began gearing up to repeal the recently-passed marriage equality bill. He went from there to do an (ahem!) stellar job for Ron Paul’s Iowa Campaign. Under Heath’s watch, the campaign trumpeted endorsements from one pastor who wanted gay people dead, followed by another pastor who wanted gay people dead, with both endorsements proudly displayed on the campaign web site.
Heath, who once said that the Wall Street meltdown of 2008 was the result of gay marriage. In announcing the new PAC in Maine, co-founder Paul Madore said that he and Heath are ready to “take off the gloves” in the November campaign. Heath gave a preview of No Special Rights’ message:
“There’s no basis in nature for a right to sodomy or a right to call two men or two women who are choosing to relate to one another sexually as a marriage,” he said. “There’s no intrinsic or natural right to that. So we believe that these are special rights.”
Heath’s entry into the Maine campaign is best news we could hope for in Maine’s upcoming fight for marriage equality.
Ron Paul’s Iowa State Director Is Also A Leading Anti-Gay Extremist
December 27th, 2011
This guy: Michael Heath. He’s the former director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, who resigned in 2009 because he was too much of a “lightning rod” when anti-gay activists began gearing up to repeal the recently-passed marriage equality bill. In 2008, Heath had blamed the economic crisis on “America’s sinful sexual culture, including the acceptance of gay unions.” In 2010, Peter LaBarbera announced that Heath would serve as board chairman for LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, just one of a small handful of groups identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. Last September, he joined the Ron Paul campaign in Iowa as that state’s director. (The announcement is dated November 16, although the news was picked up two month earlier.)
[via Warren Throckmorton]
Michael Heath Resigns From Christian Civic League of Maine
September 22nd, 2009
According to this announcement, Michael Heath resigned from the Christian Civic League of Maine yesterday. This is the guy who thought acceptance of gays were responsible for the recession. The announcement posted on the Maine Family Policy Council web site acknowledges Heath as “a lightning rod,” but doesn’t say why he’s leaving except to indicate that he will work as a private consultant. He’s had this gig since 1994. I’m sure there’s much more to the story than meets the eye.
MAINE GETS MARRIAGE
May 6th, 2009
Governor Balducci signed the marriage bill.
From the San Jose Mercury News (who, for some reason reported the story first)
Gov. John Baldacci has signed a bill making Maine the fifth state to allow gay marriage.
Earlier in the day, the Maine Legislature gave final approval to gay marriage and sent the bill to Baldacci, who had been undecided on the issue.
What Happens Next
If this were a bill without opposition, it would come into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session. However Michael Heath, executive director of the Maine Family Policy Council, has already announced that he will seek a “people’s veto” of the legislation.
A people’s veto works like this: After the end of the legislative session (probably some time in June), Heath can begin collecting signatures. He needs 10% of the last gubernatorial vote, or 55,087 valid signatures. If Heath gets enough signatures, the bill will not go into effect until it has been presented on the November ballot for an up or down vote. Yes means keep the bill, No means veto it.
Although Heath will have 90 days to collect signatures, he must present the signatures no later than 60 days before the vote, around September 3rd. Thus, may be a strange window in which signatures can be collected but in which they will not count towards forcing a vote.
Which raises a question. Were Heath to present signatures on, say, September 5 and were that day within 90 days of the end of the legislative session, would that place a stay on the enactment of the bill until the following election in the spring of 2010? While that might be a “dirty trick” that could momentarily work in Heath’s favor, it may in the long run prove to be detrimental. As time goes by, it is increasingly likely that attitudes in Maine will favor equality. This will be especially true as no dire consequences result in Vermont, Connecticut, or Massachusetts. Heath’s window of possible success may close.
As it is, Heath may have a rough go. Attitudes seem fairly even in Maine but Heath has a rather bad reputation in the state dating from his attempts to identify and out gay legislators. His requests for “tips, rumors, speculation and facts” resulted in a temporary ouster from the Christian Civic League (a previous name of the Maine Family Policy Council) and a significant amount of bad press.
Heath may well be an advantage for us. He tends towards extremism and outrageous hyperbole. Additionally, it looks as though Peter LaBarbera may be a part of the effort.
Fundamentalists Blame Economic Crisis on Gays
September 29th, 2008
In a September 25th blog post titled ‘The Nation Will Right Itself If It Fixes Sex’, Christian Civil League of Maine Executive Director Michael Heath writes that the financial crisis facing Wall Street is a symptom of America’s sinful sexual culture, including the acceptance of gay unions.
…A related post by Center for Immigration Studies Executive Director Mark Krikorian at the National Review’s website pushes a similar theme, this time focusing on Friday’s failure of WaMu. Krikorian suggests the big bank failed because it was too accommodating to minorities, including gays, African-Americans and Hispanics.
Update: There’s more blame coming our way.