Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for June, 2011

Sad About Marriage, Not About Murder

Jim Burroway

June 3rd, 2011

Jeff Kropf, the Oregon state director of the conservative Americans for Prosperity, was sad when he learned about the shooting death of Debbie Lee Higbee Benton, 54, of Gladsone County Oregon. But it wasn’t the murder that made him sad:

You see, it was their marriage makes him sad. But now that their marriage was ended with a bullet, maybe Knopf can cheer up now.

[Hat tip: Goldy @Slog]

Couple recognition, state by state

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:

Marriage
on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:

Massachusetts
Connecticut
Iowa
Vermont
New Hampshire
District of Columbia

Civil Unions
– a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:

New Jersey
Illinois

Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population

California
Oregon
Washington
Nevada

Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population

Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships

In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.

Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.

Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2010

US Map

About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.

Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.

There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).

But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.

In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.

Oregon Advocates Mull Repealing Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Jim Burroway

November 3rd, 2009

In 2004, Oregon voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In 2007, the legislature approved a law allowing limited domestic partnerships, a measure that survived a petition challenge. Now Basic Rights Oregon and Freedom to Marry are testing the waters to see whether another ballot measure to rescind the 2004 amendment is feasible. If so, they’re thinking about mounting a campaign no earlier than 2012.

Portland Mayor Cleared of Wrongdoing

Jim Burroway

June 23rd, 2009

Portland Mayor Sam Adams, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, has been cleared of wrongdoing by Oregon Attorney General John Kroger. The Attorney General’s six-month investigation looked into charges that Adams broke the law by engaging in sexual relations with Beau Breedlove before Breedlove turned 18. Kroger concluded that Breedlove lacked credibility as a witness and that no other corroborating witnesses came forward. Investigators interviewed 57 witness as part of their investigation and concluded:

Here, there are serious questions about the credibility of Breedlove’s account, due to his prior inconsistent statements, the lack of corroborating witnesses or evidence, his attempt to gain personally from matters related to his involvement with Adams and his prior criminal record,” the report states.

“Accordingly, we have concluded there is insufficient evidence to charge, let alone convict, Adams with illegal sexual contact with a minor.”

The report questioned Breedlove’s credibility, saying that he had sought media attention as far back as December 2007. The report found that Breedlove has since benefited financially as a result of his story, citing the cover story on Breedlove in the May issue of Unzipped magazine.

The Attorney General’s report also looked into two other allegations of wrongdoing. One allegation surrounded the hiring of a Portland Mercuryreporter by Adams’ staff after that reporter contacted Adams about rumors of a relationship with Breedlove. The report found that there was no credible evidence that Adams hired the reporter to cover up the affair. The report also looked into an allegation of official misconduct for misuse of government resources, but found no evidence to support those charges either.

Adams still faces a recall effort. Nevada Senator John Ensign however, does not.

New Hampshire Would be the Sixth What, Exactly?

Timothy Kincaid

May 8th, 2009

New Hampshire could be the sixth gay marriage something-or-other, but finding the language to fit is not a straight-forward task. Considering the methods by which states have reached (and retreated from) marriage rights, putting them in order depends on what one is measuring.

The order in which states have granted recognition to same sex couples

1. District of Columbia 1992 (blocked by Congress until 2002)
2. Hawaii 1997
3. California 1999
4. Vermont 1999
5. Connecticut 2005
6. New Jersey 2004
7. Maine 2004
8. New Hampshire 2007
9. Washington 2007
10. Oregon 2007
11. Maryland 2008
12. Iowa 2009
13. Colorado 2009

The order in which courts have found that states must provide marriage and/or all its rights and benefits to same-sex couples:

1. Hawaii 1993/1997 (reversed by Constitutional amendment)
2. Vermont 1999
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. New Jersey 2006
5. California 2008 (perhaps reversed by Constitutional amendment)
6. Connecticut 2008
7. Iowa 2009

The order in which states provided virtually all of the same benefits as marriage

1. Vermont 1999
2. California 2003 (with subsequent minor adjustments to fix differences)
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. Connecticut 2005
5. District of Columbia 2006 (with adjustment in 2008)
6. New Jersey 2006
7. New Hampshire 2007
8. Oregon 2007
9. Washington 2009
10. Maine 2009

The order in which legal marriages were first performed

1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Iowa – 8/31/2007 (only one)
3. California – 6/16/2008
4. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
5. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
6. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)

The order in which continuous legal marriages began to be offered

1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
3. Iowa – 4/27/09
4. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
5. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)

And should New Hampshire’s bill be signed, it will be sixth.

Sam Adams and the Double Standard: Part 2

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

January 24th, 2009

There’s a lot of confusion over Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ tryst with Beau Breedlove, the intern who Adams admitted to having a sexual relationship with. It’s time to bust some of these myths.

Myth: Because Breedlove was an intern, Adams abused his position of authority when he entered into a sexual relationship with Breedlove.

Fact: Beau Breedlove was a legislative intern in Eugene, not a Portland city intern. They met when Breedlove was interning in the Oregon House for state Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer). Adams did not hold a position of professional authority over Breedlove.

Myth: Breedlove was just a 17-year-old boy.

Fact: According to Adams’ admission, Breedlove was an 18-year-old man when they initiated their sexual affair. At eighteen, Breedlove was old enough to sign contracts, join the army and go to war, and be tried as an adult for any crimes he might feel like committing.

Breedlove, because he is a legal, consenting adult, bears equal responsibility for the affair. What’s more, he appears to have an affinity for older men. Mark Merkle, 39, was Breedlove’s boyfriend for two years until last August.

This was a man, not a boy. Yet we have all sorts of people — gay and straight, Democratic and Republican — screaming for Mayor Adam’s resignation because he lied about having had perfectly legal sex with a perfectly legal consenting adult.

Hold that thought while we look at another set of myths swirling around another politician of note:

Myth: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) admitted to have had perfectly illegal sex with a prostitute.

Fact: Oh, sorry. That was true. Vitter broke the law, but he didn’t admit to it until the statute of limitations had passed.

Myth: Sen. Vitter apologized to the Republican caucus in the Senate, and received a standing ovation.

Fact: Oh yeah. That part’s true also. Even though Vitter broke the law — something that Adams has apparently not done — he got a standing ovation.

But hey, Vitter’s admission of having engaged in an illegal sex act did come in at number five of Time magazine’s top ten awkward moments.

Let’s re-cap: Illegal sex? Awkward. Legal sex? Give him the heave-ho.

And what about the lying part?

Let’s cross the political aisle and consider Bill Clinton. After all, he lied under oath about a sexual encounter with an intern who really was his subordinate. But Clinton defenders said, well yeah, what do you expect? After all, his sex life is private, they said. He didn’t want his wife to find out, they said. He was protecting his daughter, they said. Who wouldn’t lie under those circumstances, they said. Besides, it was all a political witch hunt, they said.

That rallying cry that went “When Clinton lied, nobody died”? Gee, why don’t I see a similar call for perspective here among progressives?

Adams didn’t lie under oath. Instead, he told a very stupid lie about a very private matter that was none of anyone’s business while running for political office. Goodness! That’s never happened before!

So let’s re-cap again. Lies about gay sex with a consenting adult you have no authority over? Even liberals will call for your resignation. Lies about straight sex under oath with an intern you actually have authority over? You not only get to stay in office, but when your term finally reaches its natural conclusion, you get to enjoy the highest approval ratings of any president in history.

Nice presidential library you got there, Bill.

Hundreds of people have rallied in front of city hall to support their beleaguered mayor. Another rally is scheduled for Tuesday at noon.

No Sex Please, We’re Gay

Guest Commentary

Jack Drescher, MD

January 23rd, 2009

Jack Drescher, MD, is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. Dr. Drescher is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and presently serves as a Consultant to APA’s Committee on Public Affairs. He is past Chair of APA’s Committee on GLB Issues. Dr. Drescher is Author of Psychoanalytic Therapy and the Gay Man (The Analytic Press) and is Emeritus Editor of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health.

The city of Portland, Oregon is being rocked by a political sex scandal. This one has many of the familiar ingredients of the genre: a sexual relationship between a politician and an intern, a newspaper ferreting out the story, a lying elected official and an ineffective cover up an affair, calls to come clean, a belated admission of culpability, and a sense that the public trust has once again been betrayed.

In this case, the sex involves Portland’s newly elected Mayor Sam Adams and an eighteen-year-old male intern. And the scandal is stirring debate in Portland’s LGBT community, pitting those who believe the Mayor should be forgiven his transgressions and those clamoring for his resignation.

Gay people calling for a gay politician’s head for having sex? This seems a far cry from the attitudes that prevailed within the fledgling gay liberation movement that emerged after the 1969 Stonewall riots.  In the 1970s, gay liberation was seen as a metaphor for other forms of liberation:  third world countries were to be liberated from colonial oppression; African-Americans and other people of color were to be liberated from white oppression; women were to be liberated from male domination; gays and lesbians were to be freed from heterosexual oppression.

At the time, freedom from heterosexual oppression was also taken to mean opposing conventional, heterosexual beliefs about what constituted acceptable forms of sexuality.  Gay writers like John Rechy idealized and glamorized the sexual outlaws who sexually engaged with anonymous and multiple partners.  It was a time when calling someone “promiscuous” could reasonably be interpreted as envy of that person’s sexual prowess.

This early movement called for decriminalizing all consensual sexual activities between adults.  Some would even argue for legalizing sexual activities between adults and minors.  Sexual liberation meant there could be no bad sex as long as the sex was voluntary.

How times have changed.  Today, the LGBT civil rights movement has shifted its focus from a radical sexual liberation to more conservative issues, like the right to marry, the right to raise children, the right to serve in the military, and access to health care.  The Stonewall’s bottle-throwing drag queens could never have imagined that the movement they fired up would one day bring us Log Cabin Republicans or openly gay evangelical Christians.

How did this happen?  Among other reasons, the sexual outlaws of the 1970s did not envision the devastation of the AIDS epidemic that emerged in the 1980s.   And although the gay liberation movement did not bring about a radical rethinking of acceptable forms of open sexual expression among the heterosexual majority, it did create what might be called a gay consciousness in the general culture.  The generations who came after the sexual liberationists would shape their gay and lesbian identities to suit their own needs.

Thus it appears that while those early sexual transgressors may have paved the way for Mayor Adams to win his election as an openly gay man, the cost of mainstream acceptance has required giving up the more outre elements of sexual liberation.  He should not be surprised if the LGBT community does not support him.  Today, there are millions of kids being raised by gay and lesbian parents.  And just like straight parents, they don’t want politicians coming on to their kids.

Sam Adams and the Double Standard

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

January 21st, 2009

In 2005, Sam Adams, then a Portland, Oregon, city councilman, met 17-year-old Beau Breedlove. Adams was 42 at the time. Adams admits now that after Breedlove turned 18, they had a brief romantic liaison. When news of the liaison hit the wires, prominent voices began calling for Adams’ resignation.

In 1992, Jerry Seinfeld, a comedian with a hit television series, met and began dating 17-year-old high school student Shoshanna Lonstein. Seinfeld was 38 at the time. The following year, Seinfeld hit number three in the Neilson ratings, and went to number one in 1994. Seinfeld and Lonstein broke up in 1997. He later met Jessica Sklar and began dating her — even though she had just returned from a three-week honeymoon in Italy when they met. Through it all, Americans voted with their remotes and Seinfeld continued to top the Neilson ratings.

The Portland Tribune thinks Adams should resign because:

We don’t believe the public makes much of a distinction when it comes to a man over 40 having sex with either a 17-year-old or an 18-year-old. And it makes no difference if the teenager is male or female – it’s sexual opportunism, pure and simple.

While we may question the wisdom of Adams taking up with someone so much younger than himself, it should not be the cause of scandal itself. But we know that in the double-standards which apply to gays and lesbians, this is scandalous. In fact, merely being gay is scandalous in many quarters — even in relatively liberal city of Los Angeles. But what Adams did is no more scandalous than the behavior of America’s most beloved comedian of the last decade.

The Portland Oregonian thinks Adams should resign because he lied about the affair:

Adams said this week that he lied because he did not think voters would believe him if he said that his relationship with Breedlove was not illegal. Perhaps he was right, but it was not renewed faith in the judgment of Portlanders that prompted the mayor to come clean with them. It was simply that he was being pressed by the Willamette Week newspaper, and the lie was not sustainable on any of several levels.

So now, Portlanders are left with a mayor whose election was built on a lie.

I hadn’t followed the election, so I don’t know to what extent the mayor’s election was “built on a lie.” Nevertheless, I’m very disappointed in his deplorable lie.

It was about as deplorable as the one President Bill Clinton told about his sexual affair — under oath! Should Adams resign? I seem to recall that Clinton didn’t resign. Not only that, but Clinton left office with a 73% approval rating — the highest of any departing president since polling began seventy years earlier.

But as we all know, a gay man’s affair with an 18-year-old is much, much worse than a straight man’s affair with a 17-year-old. And a lie told by a gay man about his affair is way worse than a lie told by a straight man — under oath! Straight men are forgivable — maybe even adorable in their failings. Gay men aren’t.

That is, if you accept the premise that double standards are acceptable.

Hang in there Mayor. Yes, I’m very disappointed in you. You screwed up (no pun intended) and that screw-up reflects badly on all of us (another double standard, yes, but there it is). But if you’re going to resign, save it for something really important.

I’m disappointed, Sam Adams

Timothy Kincaid

January 20th, 2009

Sam Adams is the newly elected mayor of Portland, Oregon. He is the first openly gay mayor of a major US city. He is also coming under public criticism for a lack of judgment.

In 2005, Sam met a young man with the unlikely name of Beau Breedlove. Beau was 17. The two became friendly and, after Beau turned 18 they had a brief romantic liaison. Sam was 42 and a city councilman.

Now I’m not faulting Sam for finding Beau alluring. Many a relationship has successfully weathered age disparity. And the attentions of a handsome young man can do wonders to the ego when you’ve crossed the 40 divide. And while 18 is awfully young, Beau was also an adult.

But Sam lied. He told the media, the voters, and anyone who would listen that their friendship was simply that of a mentor. And Adams won the election in November May by a landslide.

But surely the Monica Lewinsky scandal has shown us that we can forgive our politicians for their lustful peccadilloes… just don’t lie to us. You can offer “no comment”, you can demand the privacy of your personal life, you can imply that the media is simply prurient, you can “defend the honor of this aide and all aides against besmirchment and insinuation”, but don’t lie.

I’m disappointed in you, Sam Adams.

Gay Mayor Sworn In

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2009

Sam Adams, who was elected to replace Portland Oregon’s outgoing mayor Tom Potter, was sworn into office on New Years Day. About 40 people were present, including Adams’ partner Peter Zuckerman. Portland is now the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor.

Indian Tribe Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2008

The Coquille, a Native American tribe in southern Oregon have become the first in the United States to decide to recognize same-sex marriage (The Oregonian).

As a federally recognized sovereign nation, the tribe is not bound by Oregon’s constitution. And on May 8, the tribe adopted a law that recognizes same-sex marriage and extends to gay and lesbian couples all the tribal benefits of marriage.

And while the state cannot interfere in inter-tribal matters, the planned marriage between Kitzen and Jeni Branting could play a part in a larger legal question.

Because the Coquille is federally recognized, a marriage “occurring within the tribe would actually be federally recognized,” Gilley said. And that would violate the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that says the federal government “may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose.”

As a result, the marriage between the Brantings – who share the same last name after changing it to reflect their commitment – could become a test case if challenged by the federal government. Gilley said it could test the boundaries of tribal independence nationwide. .

“This could be a test of sovereignty,” he said.

Anti-Gay Activists Surrender From Coast to Coast

Jim Burroway

June 19th, 2008

Anti-gay activists in Maine and Oregon have abandoned efforts to repeal nondiscrimination laws.

First in Maine, where an effort to repeal that state’s anti-discrimination laws have floundered:

An initiative campaign to repeal Maine’s gay rights law and put in place roadblocks to gay marriages and adoptions is being abandoned, leaders of the campaign said Thursday.

“We’re pulling the plug,” said Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine. Heath said the evangelical group failed to attract voter, volunteer and financial support it needed to continue its campaign.

This is yet another indication that the tide may be turning. As we reported on Monday, Oregon anti-gay activists abandoned their efforts to repeal two state laws. One initiative targeted a state law banning discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. The other initiative sought to repeal that state’s domestic partnership law. Now they’ve conceded that they can’t collect enough signatures in time:

Organizers conceded Monday that their initiatives to repeal two Oregon gay rights laws will not make the November ballot.

The fact that the initiatives are stalled offers more evidence that opponents are losing support, say gay rights activists, who were also celebrating the legalization of same-sex marriages in California on Monday.

But conservatives and church groups that are pushing the Oregon initiatives say their support is growing. “We’re just getting stronger,” said Marylin Shannon of Brooks, a former Republican state senator and chief petitioner in the initiative drives. “The network is growing daily.”

Marylin’s bluster is so precious, isn’t it?

Oregonians Support Civil Unions

Timothy Kincaid

June 16th, 2008

Oregon Live reports:

Social conservatives and church groups are admitting defeat in their efforts to collect signatures for initiatives to repeal two Oregon gay rights laws in this November’s election.

The campaigns were aimed at derailing a domestic partnership law and another new law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both were enacted by the 2007 Legislature.

32% of US Citizens Covered by Couple Recognition

Timothy Kincaid

May 29th, 2008

With the announcement by Governor Paterson of New York that his state would enact policies to recognize out of state same-sex marriages (in accordance with a court ruling), the gay citizens of the first and third largest states now can rest assured that their state government will honor their marriages.

Though same-sex marriages may (as of June 17th) take place only in Massachusetts and California, such marriages are now recognized in New York and (perhaps) Rhode Island. In total 63 million Americans, or 20.7%, live in marriage recognition states.

States that allow all or nearly all of the attributes of marriage under some other name, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Oregon, contribute another 18 million, or 5.9%. Those who offer limited recognition, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, have populations totaling 15 million or 5.0%.

In total 31.6% of US residents are able to avail themselves of protections for their same-sex families.

The sky hasn’t fallen.

Newer Posts | Older Posts