Iāve been having a tough time getting started this morning. But Iāve finally been spurred to action by an email from the far right American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), where the resident bozos are bent out of shape about a song called āGod Bless the USA.ā
Apparently, a kindergarten principal in New York decided the song was inappropriate for graduation. Iām not familiar with the lyrics to āGod Bless the USA,ā and in fact Iāve never heard of the song. But even if the song is completely innocuous in every respect, what business is it of the ACLJ?
I gather Mayor Bloomberg has stood up for the principal, and now weāre all supposed to hop on our high horses and sign an angry letter to Hiz Honor at the behest of the krazy konservatives.
āThe decision to ban āGod Bless the USAā is not only troubling but insulting to many in the community still healing from the tragic events of 9/11,ā the letter goes. āAs one school staffer put it, āWe were the victims of 9/11. It hit New York really hard. That song became famous because of that tragedy. Removing that song is horrific. Itās opening the wound again.ā Donāt punish patriotism for the sake of political correctness. Put āGod Bless the USAā back on the program.ā ā
Okay. I still am not positive that I know this song. But I suspect itās a country western song. Itās certainly not an official national anthem. As for 9/11, the reference leaves me shaking my head. Why should the five-year-olds be commemorating 9/11 in the first place? Because they live in New York?
Itās all insane, beginning with the very notion of a graduation ceremony for every single grade and ending with the ubiquity of outrage in our modern society, where we no longer tolerate anyone who does or says something with which we disagree.
And you might as well toss in the notion that we are āstill healingā from the terror attacks of 2001. We are scarred. But we are not in a permanent state of āstill healingā from a decade-old tragedy. Weāre tougher than that, right?
Choo Chooooo! Petticoat Junction!
Now that the news train has left the station and weāre on our way to exciting GLBT destinations, letās talk about the latest federal gay rights court victory. But, but, but Ann, you sputter. Youāve already mentioned that story. In fact, you went on and on about it last week. The First Circuit, right?
Ah yes, the First Circuit ruling striking the Defense of Marriage Act! And before that, there was the decision by Oakland-based U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken striking DOMA as well. And before that, we had the Golinski ruling out of a federal court in Northern California to the same effect. What more could there be?
Well, my friends, there are many more cases percolating up the judicial coffee machine, and we seem to be winning them all. Last week, it was Edith Windsorās turn. Windsor is the New York widow who was assessed over $350,000 in federal taxes on her own property after the death of her wife in 2009. Since the federal government did not recognize her same-sex marriage, Windsor did not qualify for the spousal tax exemption on shared property.
Now a federal judge has ordered the IRS to refund the dough re mi, striking DOMA in the process. Again.
Meanwhile, weāre still waiting for another DOMA ruling out of Connecticut, which, like New York, is governed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
All of these victories - past, current and anticipated - may be moot. As you recall, our oldest DOMA case will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court within the next 90 days, and the Court will likely accept review. That scenario makes the developments in the Ninth or Second Circuit beside the point in some ways. But in other ways, we still care.
Yes, the Supreme Court will be the final word on DOMA. But we still care whether or not federal courts around the country treat sexual orientation discrimination seriously, whether they hold such discrimination to a high legal standard and how they perceive the various High Court precedents.
The Walking Wounded
Speaking of marriage equality, I was just reading about a 53-year-old guy who will bike across the country in support of our right to wed. Every time I read about someone performing a time-consuming feat of this nature, I think that it would be fun, and I half consider doing something like this myself.
With the right publicity, you can get people to pay you for your heroic walk or whatever it is. And it feels as if you could just sort of forget your troubles, forget your bills, forget any work or home improvement and just exist. You could just walk. You could accomplish something and get some pats on the back without actually doing anything substantive.
I would miss my wife, my pugs and my home. Not to mention you, dear readers. Plus, I donāt like being outside when itās dark or raining. And it might get lonely. Otherwise, Iād be out there, for sure. Maybe Iād walk across Texas. As for the cause, it wouldnāt really matter, because in truth Iād just be doing it as a lark. But Iād come up with something worthy. Or maybe not. Maybe Iād just call it the āwalk across Texas for no reason.ā
Oh, and think of the weight loss and general fitness.
Across the Pond
Moving right along I think I read that Denmark is legalizing same-sex marriage. I know you are all thinking to yourselves that Denmark must have already done so years ago. Isnāt Denmark always the first country to put our international progressive ideas into action?
Well, yes. But in this case, I believe theyāve had a kind of civil union for many years, and they are now getting rid of the separate but equal status. It was the Netherlands that led the world in legalizing marriage just over a decade ago.
āJust over a decade ago,ā is a journalism term for āI donāt feel like looking up the exact year.ā
I also have been reading about efforts underway to legalize marriage in Britain and Scotland. But I think Iāll simply wait until those efforts come to fruition before delving into the details.
That reminds me, however. Did you read that UK Prime Minister David Cameron left one of his daughters at a pub the other day? In truth, she was in the Ladies Room when the family left. And since they had two cars, both parents thought the missing daughter was with the other one. So itās understandable. But still! Anyway, Cameron strongly supports marriage equality, which is an interesting window into the difference between conservative politics in the U.K. and the U.S.
Did you happen to read the long article in the New York Times about the misuse of drugs like Ritalin and Adderall by ambitious high school students?
The piece revealed that students are buying pills off the street or from classmates in order to focus on tests and homework. The various medications are usually prescribed for attention deficit disorder, and they can sell for five or ten bucks a pop.
I read the entire lengthy article with interest and immediately wondered where I could obtain a fistful of Adderall. (I gather you can get it on craigslist.) It sounds fantastic. A little tablet can keep you on task for many hours at a time, working with interest and efficiency until the job is done.
As an experiment, I gave Mel the article without comment. After ten minutes or so, she put it down and remarked, āLetās get some Adderall.ā
If Mel and I are any indication, the Times has unleashed a crowd of new customers for extra-legal āstudy aids.ā
Unfortunately, we have not actually pursued the Adderall idea, so Iāve been obliged to write this column without a pharmaceutical crutch. I donāt even have nicotine, since Mel and I have quit smoking. But I do have some Campari on hand, which would not be out of place on a late spring afternoon in the middle of Texas. Excuse me for a minute.
Are the Kids Okay? Maybe Not!
Perhaps thanks to my lack of Adderall, I almost completely forgot to write about one of my main news stories of the week. Maybe it was a subconscious omission. For, you see, my main story is a scientific study that suggests the children of gay-ish parents might not be as healthy, wealthy and wise as the kids of married heterosexuals.
Normally, we GLBT journalists fall all over ourselves to report scientific studies that say nice things about us. However, we like to bury the bad studies, or at least ferret out reasons to mistrust the message and the messenger. Believe me when I say the GLBT blogosphere hates this new study.
Let me say a few things. First of all, this is why our community should resist running around and insisting that gay parents are best or being gay is genetic or making other simplistic assertions ostensibly in our own behalf.
Common sense tells us that nasty gay people would be bad parents and kind straight people would be better ones. And vice versa. Your sexual orientation doesnāt make you a good mother or father.
And what if it did? We could argue that parents with a lot of money raise happier kids. Maybe they do. Maybe parents with college degrees have better outcomes. Maybe we could prove that. Does that mean that low income couples with high school educations should not be allowed to marry or adopt children? Of course not.
Is being gay a choice or a genetic feature? Who cares? If Iām gay by choice, do I deserve discrimination? No!
I happen to think gay parents are no different from straight parents in the abstract. I also think sexual orientation is driven by biology. But gay people should not have to prove themselves worthy of equality. We should not have to be better parents. We should not have to be biologically determined in order to merit civil rights. Letās stop cheering for the gay-friendly scientific reports and ranting at the others and recognize that none of them really matter.
All of this said, letās put this study in perspective. The author compared parents who had had a relationship with a member of the same sex with those who had not. Right there weāre not comparing apples to apples, since the former category is far more likely to include broken homes. Also, thereās a big difference between a ānormalā gay household, with two committed parents and a stable environment, and a family with straight partners who are experimenting with gay sex on the side and possibly breaking up the household.
I donāt know. As I said, there are bad parents of all stripes and good ones as well. The notion that sexual orientation should define such a complicated status for good or ill is senseless.
I see here that my space is almost up. I have nothing more to say about the parenting study, so let me talk about my addiction to CSI-type TV shows.
Lately, Iāve found myself scrutinizing other crime shows where the characters seem to be ignoring the correct forensic procedures that I have learned from the CSI shows.
Itās so irritating. The Mentalist guy will pick something up without gloves and before itās been photographed. Tony and Ziva will go crashing around a crime scene, ignoring many opportunities to collect DNA or prints. And may I ask why the coroner on Body of Evidence is always running around town like a detective, interviewing people and such? Shouldnāt she stay in the morgue like all the other coroners on TV? Just sayinā.
--A new version of Annās column is available every week at sfbaytimes.com. You can reach her at email@example.com.