Hello, dear readers. It is a dark and stormy afternoon here in central Texas, and I have been â€śquarantinedâ€ť by my Internet provider as punishment for sending thousands of solicitations for male enhancement products and drugs over my system.
Oops. My bad, I suppose.
I had to go to Best Buy this morning to consult with the Geek Squad in connection with this mishap, and while I was waiting for the geeks to analyze my computer, I bought the first season of Battlestar Galactica, just for fun. Now, on this warm rainy day, I am dying to kick back with an amusing beverage and immerse myself in science fiction. But no, I have a responsibility to my profession and my community. The news must go on!
Anyway, I read a whole bunch of stuff in the coffee shop and I am going to try to recall much of it for your safety and comfort. Iâ€™ll fill in the rest of the column with clever asides and trenchant observations about life and love and then return to the coffee shop to file it, assuming I am still considered computer non grata on Road Runner.
Shall we begin?
You all probably heard that Love Honor and Cherish, or whatever that group is called, failed to collect the 700,000 or more names they needed to qualify a Prop 8 repeal for the 2010 ballot in California. And you probably recall as well that most of the activist groups in the state had already decided that it would be better to shoot for 2012 in the first place.
If the repeal had qualified, we would likely have seen a mess of a campaign, featuring reluctant support from annoyed gay people who feared that a loss in 2010 would hamper the effort in 2012. Plus, considering that all the pundits tell us 2010 is going to be a hard right election dominated by high levels of enthusiasm from conservatives, I think weâ€™re better off working towards 2012 as a unified community, donâ€™t you?
Love Honor and Whatever did not say how many names they managed to round up, but it sounds as if they didnâ€™t come close to the target. Was that lack of organization or lack of interest from the electorate? Iâ€™m guessing the former.
Time To Suit Up
From what I could tell, it has been a slow GLBT news week, and the failure of the Prop 8 repeal effort was the biggest piece of hard news I could find. I did read that Iceland seems to be on its way to legalizing marriage for gay couples by late June, certainly an exciting development for our brothers and sisters in that exotic world of salmon, white cable knit sweaters and bank failures. I flew through Iceland one time and had to deplane for three hours in the middle of the night with nothing to do but go duty free shopping in Reykjavik, which is how I know about the salmon and the sweaters.
And youâ€™ll be interested to know as well that a federal court in Boston has scheduled oral arguments in our big challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act on May 6. Just around the corner! The Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) are arguing that that DOMAâ€™s ban on recognizing legally married gay couples in Massachusetts (or elsewhere for that matter) is unconstitutional. The state of Massachusetts has filed a similar suit against the government, but I gather that they two actions are proceeding separately even though they bring up the same arguments in the same court. Iâ€™m sure the court knows best.
At any rate, GLADâ€™s case is one that could possibly get to the U.S. Supreme Court, and at this rate, it might reach the justices before the stalled federal case against Prop 8 twists its way up the ladder. The Prop 8 case went to trial in January, but Judge Vaughn Walker ordered a break for several weeks before closing arguments were to be held. Then, the closing arguments were postponed while the two parties negotiated a big discovery dispute that Iâ€™m not going to rehash for you here. Suffice to say that we have no idea when the trial will conclude and Judge Walker can begin his deliberations.
As far as Iâ€™m concerned, we have a much better chance of winning GLADâ€™s case at the Supreme Court than we have of winning a Prop 8 appeal. So Iâ€™m rooting for GLAD, and Massachusetts, too, for that matter, to scurry up the appellate process and beat Prop 8 to the High Court. On verra.
Gays v Christians
Speaking of the Supreme Court, the justices are about to hear arguments in the gay-related case of Christian Legal Society v Martinez, which goes before the Court April 19. Loyal readers know that we have written reams about this litigation and can be forgiven for giving it short shrift in this particular column. But since itâ€™s coming up next week, a brief review is in order.
The Christian Legal Society is a franchise of sorts of Christian clubs on law school campuses. The club rules say that only perfect little non-gay Decalogue-abiding Christians can hold leadership positions in the group, although the rest of us sinners are allowed to attend meetings.
At UC Hastings College of the Law, all recognized student groups must adhere to a nondiscrimination code that includes the officers of the organizations. Ergo, the Christian Legal Society has not been recognized as an official student group and it canâ€™t get something like $300 for club activities out of the fund established for that purpose. The group is free to meet on campus and do or say whatever it likes. It is just not an official Hastings club.
The Christian Legal Society calls this state of affairs an affront to it constitutional rights of freedom of association and religious expression. The law school says get over yourselves. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with Hastings, but in an earlier case, the Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of a Christian group so the appellate courts are divided. To the rescue come the Supremes, in a case that could have an impact on other types of school club recognition cases.
And this brings us to our next topic, Elena Kaganâ€™s prospects to succeed Justice Stevens.
At this point, Elena Kagan tops everyoneâ€™s short list for Obamaâ€™s High Court nominee, so for all we know heâ€™ll deliberately look elsewhere. But sheâ€™s there for a reason, or several reasons.
She is young, just turning 50 this month. She is widely respected by legal scholars along the political spectrum and has been hailed for her work as dean of Harvard Law. She is considered brilliant. She has no judicial paper trail. She was just confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the post of Solicitor General last year, so she has recently gone through the crucible of Senate confirmation.
She is also reportedly very nice, which I think is a good characteristic for a High Court justice.
On the other hand: Some progressives find it suspicious that conservatives have sung her praises. In her earlier confirmation hearings, she seemed to embrace a conservative idea of presidential power. Since Stevens was the only protestant and only non-Ivy leaguer on the Court, Obama might hesitate to put up a Princeton and Harvard educated Jewish woman to replace him.
And finally, thereâ€™s the hush hush gay factor. Although Kagan is not openly gay, she is single and she looks gay and there have been gay rumors, perhaps simply for those two reasons or perhaps because itâ€™s true. No one knows, and I read somewhere that some friend of hers claims sheâ€™s not gay.
Whatever. Kaganâ€™s one huge legal stand came in a gay case, where she stood up for Harvard Lawâ€™s right to ban the U.S. military from using school facilities to recruit on campus. Kagan led a few dozen faculty members in filing a friend of the court brief in the case that challenged the governmentâ€™s right to withhold federal funding to law schools that did not cooperate with military recruiters. The High Court ruled against the law schools, and by extension ruled against Kagan and her group (who were not part of the coalition suing the government). In reluctantly accepting the Courtâ€™s decision, Kagan called the militaryâ€™s ban on gay service members â€śprofoundly wrong - both unwise and unjustâ€ť and added that she looked forward to the day â€śwhen all our students, regardless of sexual orientation, will be able to serve and defend this country in the armed services.â€ť
You know. That kind of direct, unmitigated support for gay equality is enough to win my support, so I hope sheâ€™s nominated and makes it through the confirmation process. I donâ€™t care if there arenâ€™t any Protestants on the Court, and I have nothing against Ivy Leaguers, although Harvard is not my favorite.
Sing with me! Bull dogs! Bull dogs! Bow wow wow. Eli Yale. Bull dogs! Bull dogs! Bow wow wow. Our team will never fail. When the sons of Eli march through the line, that is the sign we hail! Bull dogs! Bull dogs! Bow wow wow. Eli Yale.
What else do we have on our gay agenda?
Oh, hereâ€™s something. Iâ€™ve been reading that the Employment Nondiscrimination Act may be revived in the House over the next few weeks. The Advocateâ€™s Kerry Eleveld says the House will schedule a floor vote on ENDA and then dump the bill in the Education and Labor Committee a week or so beforehand so it can move quickly. The plan is for a strong vote in the House to propel the legislation through the Senate on a wave of, um, civil rights fervor.
You know how I feel about ENDA, but Iâ€™ve been very mean to this bill, so I will take a step back and wish it well, in a tepid sort of way. God speed, ENDA! I still think it will undercut gay rights in the near term.
We also have some new dirt on predatory ex-Congressman Eric Massa, who resigned a couple of months ago on the heels of a sexual harassment scandal. Turns out Mr. Massa may be guilty of a lot more than a few gropes or comments. Indeed, the Washington Post reports he has the self control of a Catholic priest in the 1960s, and you can read all the details yourself. Try googling â€śMassaâ€ť and â€śinternsâ€ť as a first step.
And finally, Mike Huckabee just said a few weird nasty things about gays in an interview with a college student the other day. You know what? Mike Huckabee is a far right evangelical Christian conservative. Iâ€™d find it newsworthy if the Huckster said something fine and noble about gay men and women, but I donâ€™t find it surprising that he compared us to drug addicts and suggested that gays adopt children for the same reason that other people adopt puppies.
So instead of ranting about Mike, I think Iâ€™ll go watch Battlestar Galactica. And donâ€™t forget to email me if you need any male enhancement products.