Whatâ€™s up with the Boy Scouts? On Tuesday, the organization announced that it will continue to discriminate against gays. I gather that the Scouts set up a committee on this subject a couple of years ago, and the committee has now decided in favor of continued bigotry.
I have a confession to make. Every year I buy a big carton of microwave popcorn from the cute little neighbor boy who is raising money for his troop. I feel guilty about it, but there it is.
I donâ€™t go to Target. I donâ€™t give to the Salvation Army. I donâ€™t eat at Chick-fil-A, and I donâ€™t buy Romanian wine, even though I can no longer remember exactly what the Romanian wine growers did to annoy our community. But I canâ€™t say no to the Scout across the street.
At any rate, the Scouts will not say who was on the committee, nor will we learn what kind of investigation or research they undertook. All we know is that the group will continue to ban gay Scouts as well as gay or lesbian leaders. You may recall that a lesbian den mother in Ohio was recently booted out of her sonâ€™s Tiger Scouts based on her sexual orientation.
I know I should be more outraged by the Scoutsâ€™ intransigence. And yet, I feel as if the country and the world are simply passing them by. Where once the Scouts were part of the enemy front lines, a phalanx to be overrun in our great battle for Equality, they now remind me of injured soldiers on the sidelines, slouched against the fence posts, their heads swathed in white bandages, still heckling us as we move forward.
Yeah, Scouts. You still hate gays. Whatever. Weâ€™re moving on.
High Court Inundated with DOMA Petitions
So, speaking of moving on, you wonâ€™t believe this, but another challenge to Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act has been sent to the Supreme Court. On July 16, the American Civil Liberties Union petitioned the Court to hear the case of New York widow Edith Windsor, she of the $350,000-plus estate tax bill, even though her case is still pending in the lower federal appellate court.
This is a fine moment to confess that I was wrong about the Supreme Courtâ€™s schedule. Their summer vacation officially ends, not on Oct. 1, but on Sept. 24.
On that day, the justices will consider whether to review the First Circuit decision that struck DOMA in two consolidated Massachusetts cases. They will also decide whether to take early review of two more of our DOMA victories, the lower court decision in the case of California lawyer Karen Golinski and now, the Windsor decision. And who knows what will happen once we hear the opinion in the Pedersen case out of Connecticut, another DOMA ruling that is due any day? Maybe the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders will toss that case into the Supreme Stew.
I realize that no one can predict what the High Court will do. But letâ€™s jump out on a big fat sturdy limb and predict that the justices will review one, more, or all of these DOMA cases in their 2012-2013 session. They just will.
Whatâ€™s less clear is what the Court will do with two other non-DOMA gay rights cases. The Prop 8 case is heading to Washington. And recently, the state of Arizona asked the Court to review a Ninth Circuit ruling in favor of gay state employees.
Will the Court take on DOMA and skip these other cases? If so, we would see marriage restored in the Golden State and a strong precedent upheld in the Arizona case. Plus, we would likely see the High Court strike DOMA.
Or will the Court take the full array of gay rights cases and possibly issue some muddled combination of rulings? I hope not. Letâ€™s just say that this is a weird moment in the legal fight for GLBT civil rights.
Is it my imagination, or does Mitt Romney look a little bit like Gumby? At a certain angle?
So here in my hometown of Austin, we have a developing story out of the University of Texas. A few weeks back, one of UTâ€™s sociology professors published a report suggesting that the kids of gay parents have more problems than those raised by â€śintactâ€ť families.
The GLBT community leapt to its feet, pulled its sharpest sword from its sheath and lost no time in poking holes in the substance, style and sponsors of Professor Mark Regnerusâ€™ work. Not only did the good professor base his conclusions on the children of broken homes, where newly gay parents dropped out of heterosexual marriages, but his main grants were funded by right wing conservative groups. All in all, this was hardly the stuff of reputable scholarship!
Indeed, it does appear that Regnerus had a not-so-hidden agenda, much as Professor Liberal Feminist might focus her academic lens on happy gay families where the kids are not just okay, theyâ€™re making better grades and having more fun than those other suckers! My point is that the discussion itself implies that we, the gay parents, must prove ourselves the equal of Ozzie and Harriet before we deserve equal rights.
Thatâ€™s nonsense. Parents who earn six figures might raise more successful kids than poor ones. Does this mean we limit adoptions or parental rights to rich couples? Of course not.
Are there differences between the kids of gay or straight parents? Possibly. Who knows? We really havenâ€™t had enough time to produce solid, long-term surveys. Weâ€™d have to take into account other factors: education, income, discrimination, whatever. Maybe there will be differences between gay male households and lesbian households. There are differences in every demographic and every division, and while these distinctions are interesting from an analytical perspective, we donâ€™t have to â€świnâ€ť every study.
The one thing thatâ€™s pretty clear is that gay parents are basically not that much different that straight ones. That said, Professor Regnerus may well be correct that kids from broken homes, where one of the parents turned gay and left, have problems. And as long as we all agree on what weâ€™re talking about, there may be nothing wrong with his methodology.
One way or another we will find out. This week, UT officials announced that they will investigate the Regnerus study due to a number of complaints, mostly from you know who (us!). I havenâ€™t read his report, but maybe he did something underhanded. Weâ€™ll see.
But just as our community should not go ballistic over whether or not people can really â€śchange,â€ť nor should we obsess over what this or that sociologist says about our families. Civil rights do not rise or fall on science, let alone pseudo-science.
Black Like Jennifer
Have any of you been following the sex scandal surrounding Floridaâ€™s Republican Lt. Governor, Jennifer Carroll? Carroll is a married mother of three and former Navy veteran who has been accused of having lesbian sex in her Tallahassee office with an assistant who also deliberately started a fire in someoneâ€™s trashcan with a cigar.
Okay, I will back up, if you insist.
Carletha Cole is a former aide who was arrested for some kind of illegal tape recording scheme. Last year, Cole secretly taped her bossâ€™s chief of staff complaining about Governor Rick Scott. So thereâ€™s that.
Now, Cole is on trial, so weâ€™re learning interesting things from various court papers and depositions and whatever. Cole is apparently pulling no punches, telling the lawyers that she walked in on the Lt. Governor enjoying certain intimate attentions from her aide, Beatriz Ramos.
Believe me, the accusations were quite graphic, but I certainly would not want to offend the delicate sensibilities of my beloved readers with a detailed description of oral sex on the desk.
Cole also said that Ramos dropped a lit cigar into her (Coleâ€™s) trashcan, deliberately starting a fire for reasons unclear. The reasons are unclear because I am not inclined to spend much time sorting them out.
Recently, Carroll denied the allegations, telling the press that â€śblack women who look like me donâ€™t engage in relationships like that.â€ť Since Carroll would look right at home at any lesbian club Iâ€™ve ever spent time in, Iâ€™m not sure what she thinks sheâ€™s saying here. She also pointed out that she herself has been married for 29 years, while her accuser is single. Elsewhere I read that Cole is a grandmother, so letâ€™s just say that the inconsistencies are piling up!
To be fair, an AP report on July 15 says the Lt. Governor passed a polygraph test. But whereâ€™s the fun in that?
Hereâ€™s an interesting article. Earlier this year someone took a video of several guys beating up a gay man on a street corner in Atlanta. The victim, Brandon White, was doing nothing in particular, and the guys just seemed to come out of nowhere. It was replayed on cable news a zillion times and White was interviewed. Maybe you saw it.
Now, the three attackers have been sentenced to five years in prison and five years behind bars. The men have apologized to White, and they all face training and community service once they get out of prison in 2017. But is five years behind bars excessive punishment for a fight, even a fight that was motivated by hatred? According to an article in Bostonâ€™s The Edge, some in the Atlanta GLBT community say yes.
Members of Project Q Atlanta wrote a letter to the Journal Constitution suggesting that there were better ways to deal with violence against gays.
â€śOur primary interest is seeing an end to the homophobia that seems to have been a dominant factor in the attack on Mr. White,â€ť wrote the activists. â€śWe do not believe that will be accomplished by a long sentence of imprisonment.â€ť The letter writers thought that education was the key to getting men like these on the path to becoming contributing members of society.
Hey, I canâ€™t help but agree, being a bleeding heart liberal in good standing. But what strikes me is a subtle shift in our communal thinking. For decades weâ€™ve been outraged at criminals on trial who used the gay panic defense, at police who trapped men in parks, at violent attackers who got away with gay bashing for this reason or that. Lately, however, it seems as if mainstream society has had enough and is finally coming down hard on antigay aggressors. Has that shift given us the breathing space to let fury give way to compassion and thoughtfulness?
I know that many in the gay community were satisfied with the relatively light sentence imposed on the Rutgers roommate whose antics contributed to the suicide of Tyler Clementi. As disgusting as they were, we recognized that frat level pranks did not justify a decade behind bars, and that no one incident leads a person to take his or her life. Likewise, five years behind bars is a lot of time for a street fight. Surely our courts can find a more creative deterrent.
Now what? There was something on TV I meant to complain about. Oh, yes. The dialogue on that Political Animals show. As fans of West Wing, Mel and I found the much ballyhooed â€śtelevision eventâ€ť a major disappointment. Trite dialogue, heavy-handed characters, unsophisticated plot, cumbersome direction. And why does the gay son have to be an oversexed pretty boy with a drug habit and no business sense? Why couldnâ€™t the gay guy be engaged to be married and the straight one be hooking up with strangers and planning to open a nightclub with his parentsâ€™ money?
Just wondering. And I also read that the ex-president was based on Lyndon Johnson. Hey writers, ever heard of Robert Caro? Plus, I donâ€™t think any good Democrat wants to tiptoe around a subliminal image of Hillary Clinton having sex with LBJ.
--A new version of Annâ€™s column is available every week at sfbaytimes.com. You can reach her at email@example.com.