And a Slow Sense of Sanity Returns


She vetoed it. Thank goodness.

I’d like to hope that threatening the state’s economy and trying to turn back the clock on civil rights by 50+ years will be enough to get these asshat Republicans out of office. I’d like to think that. But what will happen is that Republicans will vote for them anyhow. They will either do this because they agreed with things like SB1070 and SB1062, or they’ll do what a gay Republican friend of mine seems to be doing and simply rationalize away the problem. Also, I’ll lay down some money right now that the Arizona GOP will try to censure her for this and the Medicaid expansion. If they did it to McCain, after all…

Is Coming Out Still an Act of Bravery?


A few days ago, indie film darling, and occasionally successful mainstream actress, Ellen Page, came out of the closet. Most of us yawned and went back to playing Flappy Birds, which led CNN to ask the question, “Is coming out still an act of bravery?”

I’d say…maybe. Perhaps. It depends on the circumstances. If you’re a reasonably popular indie film actress who isn’t bad looking and has probably given up on any real hope of massive, mainstream success…then no, it isn’t. If you’re someone at the tail end of your NBA career, aware that you probably aren’t going to play professionally again…then no, it isn’t. If you’re one of the best football players in the country, confident of getting a multi-million dollar contract once you’re drafted…then no, it isn’t. If you’re a transgendered person spending the next few years in federal prison for leaking documents…then no, it isn’t. If you’re a male figure skater…it’s kind of just taken as read that you’re gay.

But on the other hand, if you’re someone whose career is still on the rise, with no guarantee of further money, fame or success, then, yes. If you still have almost everything to lose, then coming out is an act of bravery. If you live in modern Russia, then coming out is an act of bravery. If you live in a fucking awful country like Uganda, then coming out is an act of almost suicidal bravery.

But for the most part, in 2014 America, coming out is…just a thing. And most people will yawn, and go back to playing Flappy Birds. And that is exactly how it should be.

When Will Coming Out Become Easy?


Here is a video from British Olympic diver, Tom Daley.

Here is a video from YouTube sensation and actor, Troye Sivan.

Coming out is the process of telling various people, sometimes even yourself, that you are something other than straight. It’s something that has been, and for many people remains, a very traumatizing, yet liberating, experience, and it is almost never easy.

I came out as gay back in 1991. Turned out I was a little off, and revised that to being bi sometime in the late 1990s. Yes, I, too, still fancy girls. My coming out was fairly smooth and easy and surprised absolutely no one, aside from one of my grandfathers who chuckled a bit and said, “You’re not gay.” Turns out he was right, but not, I suspect, in the way he thought.

For me coming out was a fairly easy, straight-forward (as it were), process. I told my mom, my dad, other members of my family, and my friends. Not even one single person seemed remotely surprised, aside from the aforementioned grandfather. The whole coming out process, which took several months, mind you, also landed me in a three-year relationship which was, I must say, pretty sweet.

I had a fairly smooth and easy coming out experience. No one broke off their friendships with me, my family didn’t disown me, and basically no one seemed to give a fuck. That was twenty-two years ago, and from what I can tell, things have gotten even easier. I can only imagine what it was like for someone to come out in, say, the mid-1980s, at the height of the AIDS crisis. Or imagine what it was like in the early 1970s. Go much farther back, and it wasn’t even really an option. It’s only been within my lifetime that coming out has really be a thing for most people.

It’s gotten easier, but as the above videos illustrate, it is still by no means easy. It still involves a lot of personal exploration. It still involves a lot of stress. It still involves a whole, big process where people have to be told. And, sure, it’s not likely to be a surprise to many people, but even still. There’s also always that chance that people might not react as one wants, and gays, lesbians, bisexuals, etc, do still lose friends and get disowned by their families.

When will coming out become easy? It will become easy when it is no longer necessary. When someone can just be who they are and love who they love without anyone noticing, commenting, or really caring. When being gay, or bi, or lesbian, or whatever is regarded as being roughly the equivalent of being left-handed (ie: something most people aren’t, something that makes life a bit different, but not anything abnormal), then and only then will coming out become easy.

We aren’t there yet. But we will be at some point, and that makes me very happy to think about.

15 States (and One District), Down. One More on the Way. 34 States and 5 Territories to Go!


Blue kangs states are best!

Blue kangs states are best!

Since August, Minnesota, New Jersey and Illinois have legalized same-sex marriage. Hawaii is poised to be next. New Mexico will probably follow sometime in the next few months. At present, well over 100 million Americans (37% of the population), live in a state where same-sex marriage is legal. All of us live in a country where the federal government grants recognition to marriages legally performed in these states.

So this begs the question: when will the other 34 states and five territories get off their collective asses and legalize same-sex marriage?

The territories will likely be a mixed bunch. Guam has discussed the issue, but hasn’t moved on it. Peurto Rico is heavily Democratic, but also heavily Catholic. Pope Francis has told everyone to basically stop worrying about the gays, but it remains to see if that’s going to matter. The US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and CNMI all have their own issues as well.

As for the various states, well…look at that map. The problems are basically where you’d expect them to be. Looking at another map may be informative.

US_miscegenation.svg

That’s what laws against mixed-race marriages were like back in the day. And by “back in the day” I mean up until the late 1960s. The Supreme Court case that struck those laws down, Loving v Virginia, was decided less than five years before I was born. We were only two years away from landing on the Moon, and yet it was still illegal for a white and black person to get married in vast parts of the country.

There are some significant overlaps in that map. The last states to have anti-miscegenation laws are also, with the exception of Delaware, all states that ban gay marriage to greater or lesser degrees. These holdout states had to be dragged, sometimes almost literally, kicking and screaming into the 20th century.

Sadly, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to again. Some currently “red on the first map” states will be pragmatic and pass gay marriage laws. I expect Michigan and Nevada to take this route, and both to do it for money. Others will gradually sober up and take their mouths off the Tea Party exhaust pipe and simply realize, with good ole fashioned Midwestern populism, that what two consenting adults do together is their own damn business. Montana, the Dakotas and possibly Kansas will go this route. Oklahoma may, especially as word gets out that some of the Indian tribes there will perform gay marriages.

But we know what the real holdouts will be; the deep south. The place where people sometimes still refer to “the war of northern aggression” and think that Richard Nixon was dangerously liberal. What they think about Lyndon B. Johnson doesn’t even bear repeating. Most people in the south aren’t racist, that’s sure. But I think we can assume that if there’s any place where one can be fairly openly racist, the deep south is that place.

Mind you, this is several decades after Loving, after Martin Luther King, Jr, after school integration and after the Civil Rights Act. So, no, I’m willing to bet that the deep southern states, except maybe Florida will keep gay marriage illegal up until the bitter end when the Supreme Court forces them to accept it.

And when will that be? Well, it depends on what happens between now and January of 2017. If Obama gets another SCOTUS nomination or two (Scalia will probably hold on until he’s dead, but Thomas might leave), then my guess is somewhere around the 2018 or 2019 term. If there’s only a couple of the Dark Side-style conservatives left, it could happen then. It could happen earlier. Roberts has been slightly impressive over the last couple of years and has proven to be very good at figuring out where the winds of change are blowing.

Even then, I don’t imagine that we will get a full-on “all states must have gay marriages” ruling. That will probably not come until sometime next decade. But a ruling that says all states have to recognize any marriages legally performed in other states? That will come sooner and will frankly make a lot of sense.

It’s only been about ten years since Massachusetts became the first state with gay marriage. Oddly, pretty much nothing the anti-gay marriage crowd has predicted has come to pass, and now we have many, many other states joining the team. Soon more will, and this imperfect experiment of American equality will take another grand step forward.

SCOTUS and DOMA, etc


39301_10152755639440651_1931006684_n

So the Supreme Court is hearing cases on California’s Proposition 8 (you know, the one that holds that the public are allowed to take away rights granted to people), and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. At stake is the future for same-sex marriage in this country. If the justices rule one way, we likely still have the current situation, with nothing really changing. If they rule the other way, we likely still have the current situation with nothing really changing. At least in the short run.

See, I don’t think this is going to be another Loving v Virginia case, or even another Lawrence v Texas. I expect that in the Prop 8 case, the court will make a very narrow ruling that applies only to California and says that the people can’t take away rights previously granted to a minority.

The DOMA case is a bit trickier. There’s no real Constitutional ground for DOMA. It’s 100% about discrimination and everyone knows it. I expect the court will overturn it, requiring that the federal government recognize gay marriages legally performed. I don’t expect that they will, at least at this point, take the next logical step and require that states recognize any legal marriage, even if they don’t perform those sorts of marriages themselves.

This case has been a long time coming, and sadly I’ve spent the last couple days buried under allergies, so I haven’t been able to pay as much attention as I’d like. Still, I think this is going to, in the short run, end up being a positive thing for gay marriage, and in the long run, it will set the stage for major, massive reforms.

Well, This Was a Welcome Surprise…


In retrospect, the hair was probably a major hint.

Zachary Quinto, who, among other things, played Spock in the recent Star Trek reboot, has come out of the closet. He did this apparently in response to a gay teen killing himself back in September.

It’s really quite rare when actors who have active careers come out, but we’re starting to see more and more, with people like Ellen Degeneress and Neil Patrick Harris. Usually it’s actors whose time on the stage has passed. Coming out these days and still having a career isn’t as rare as it used to be, but it’s still quite notable, and good for Quinto for doing so!

Next up on the lists of “People Who I Want to Come Out”… let’s have an active NFL player and a member of an active and popular boy band.

Goodbye to a Bad Law


So you know that useless, ineffective, Carter-like President of ours? The one who hasn’t done anything useful with his first term? Well, I mean, aside from health care reform, student loan reform, bailing out GM, passing consumer protection law, ratcheting back the unwinable war on drugs, reducing troops in Iraq, ending torture and, oh, yes, killing bin Laden. You know, other than that stuff.

Well, here’s another thing he’s done: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is finally, after eighteen years, officially dead. About fucking time. I understand why Clinton signed off on the law and why he thought it was a reasonable compromise, but, well, it wasn’t. Not even slightly.

What’s going to be most interesting is to see what this does to the gay marriage debate. Now you can have soldiers entering into same sex marriages in those places where it’s legal, then finding themselves transferred to somewhere where it isn’t. That’s not going to be tenable and it won’t last long before the courts have to step in and overturn DOMA (speaking of things Clinton might have thought were acceptable at the time…). This will certainly help the gay marriage debate in the long run, and that makes me quite pleased.

But what makes me more pleased is that we’ve finally joined the civilized world on the issue of gays in the military. We can finally take our stand next to countries like just about all of NATO and Israel, as well as most of the rest of civilization.

And all of this from a feckless, do-nothing President.

Colombia: Now Better on Gay Rights Than America!


Colombia’s high court has given their congress two years to pass laws that allow same-sex marriage. In case you’re keeping score, the United States Supreme Court hasn’t done anything in that direction.

This is a great thing for the people of Colombia, the people of South America and for anyone interested in equality. It also means that Colombia now ranks higher than the US when it comes to gay rights. So now in addition to large portions of Europe, we’re also being outdone by Colombia, Argentina, Mexico (sort of), and that historical bastion of equality, South Africa. Well done, America, well done.

Pansexuals; or, You’re Bi, Get Over Yourself


I happened across a chart the other day. I don’t know who owns it, so I don’t want to post it, but it was a pie-chat divided into thirds. One third was labeled “penis”, one third was labeled “vagina” and one third was labeled “other”. The title was “Why I’m a pansexual.”

Pansexuality, for those of you not up on such things, and why would you be?, is essentially bisexuality with an air of pretension. It’s a term tossed-around by the kind of people who will use the word “genderqueer” at you with malice aforethought. It’s the notion that there’s more than two genders and that the pansexual is someone who would be willing to have sexual relations with those other genders. It’s what Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood is best described as.

This is a very silly concept. Look, there’s only two genders; male and female. There aren’t any others that we know of. Sure, there’s people who are transgendered, but someone who is, say, male-to-female is not a different gender. Hermaphrodites or people with uncertain genitals are also not a different gender, they’re just people with birth defects. This does not make them any less worthy of our respect and good treatment, but a mutation does not another gender make.

Captain Jack as a pansexual is something I can accept, because he’s from the far distant future and has probably met (ie: shagged), beings of several different genders. But he’s fictional and until we have actual evidence of more than two genders, so is pansexuality. If people really wanna call themselves pansexuals, well, more power to them, I suppose, but they’ll have to put up with a lot of eye-rolling from me.

And Now New York


It is done. New York has become the sixth state to allow gay marriage. DC also allows it, meaning that if you live there, you don’t have real Congressional representation, but you can at least get married to a gay. So, yeah.

Anyhow, it’s hard to overstate how important this is. With one swift move, the number of same sex couples who are free to marry in this country has doubled. And it did so with a Republican lead state legislative body, and a couple Republicans breaking ranks to vote yes. That alone is amazingly important. While the Republican Party as a whole is continuing to spiral downward into a “we hate gays!” situation, some brave members of the party are willing to stand up and do what’s right.

It’s also worth noting there were some very stupid religious concerns that were addressed here. These protections allow churches to refuse to marry same-sex couples, but big deal. The Catholic Church already refuses to marry formerly divorced people, so clearly there’s no problem on the chuchy level.

So it is done. 44 states and six territories remain. Let’s hope they fall soon, too.

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