Itâ€™s been a long time since weâ€™ve had a ho hum week in the vibrant world of GLBT community news. But I officially deem it so. Yes, there was hoopla galore over the official closet exit of former GOP chairman Ken Mehlman. But everyone knew the poor bastard was gay to begin with, so as far as I was concerned it was old news.
And speaking of closet cases, Florida governor Charlie Crist was on one of the Sunday shows, where he was asked whether he supported a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The independent senate candidate said yes, which annoyed me. He then added that he thought gay and lesbian couples should have the right to live together if they wanted, but that marriage was a sacred institution.
The right to live together? Thanks, Charlie! What next? The right to go on vacation together, kiss in the shadows or maybe celebrate Thanksgiving as a family? Halleluiah, brothers and sisters!
Crist later explained that he was actually not in favor of a federal amendment, but simply supported Floridaâ€™s state amendment. Whatever.
Oh wait! Hold the presses! I was just checking up on something boring when I stumbled over the following headline:
â€śCanadian cops face axe after watching lesbian cellmatesâ€™ sex romp.â€ť
I donâ€™t know about you, but Iâ€™d say weâ€™ve found our lead story.
According to a weird news service that Iâ€™ve never heard of, four Royal Canadian Mounted Police and three prison workers at the Kalmoops Regional Correction Centre in British Columbia watched the erotic shenanigans on closed circuit TV for about an hour, violating several regulations in the process. The women were reportedly assigned to the same cell on Aug. 18 and immediately began getting â€śfriskyâ€ť with one another. I guess thatâ€™s when the show started, but the report doesnâ€™t say. Apparently, the officers were supposed to run in and put an end to the fun and games, and the voyeurs are now under investigation for their passive reaction to the sexy encounter. Bad choices, guys!
Marriage News Tapas
Well, now what? We can only go downhill from Camp Kalmooops, but I will do my best to keep us on a slow descent.
In Texas, a state court of appeals has ruled that married gay couples may not acquire legal divorces in the Lone Star state, a relief for me personally, since I do not want Mel to be able to divorce me without going to a great deal of personal trouble and expense.
Nonetheless, I confess it pained me to be reminded of how little our marriage means to the powers that be in my own home state. The ruling was no surprise, and yet I will continue to support the Texas Longhorns with every fiber of my being. Stockholm syndrome?
And do you remember the two guys in Wyoming who filed a federal suit for marriage rights a week or so ago? The men, who are in their early 20s (one might be 19) are acting as their own lawyers and appear to have already lied about an attempt to obtain a marriage license to begin with. (They would not have standing to sue unless they had tried and failed to marry.)
Now, we learn that one of them has a criminal history of some sort and has already initiated a handful of other lawsuits against various authorities for various reasons. Iâ€™m not even going to refresh my memory on these details, but it sounds as if a narcissistic juvenile is at the helm of our latest foray into the federal judiciary system. One assumes that this misguided civil rights skirmish will be short lived, and that the impact on Wyoming politics will not greatly damage our cause.
Finally, speaking of useless court filings, much is being made of an attempt by conservatives to force Attorney General Brown and Governor Schwarzenegger to appeal the Prop 8 ruling.
The Pacific Justice Institute has asked Californiaâ€™s Third District Court of Appeal for some kind of emergency order that would force the men to defend the marriage ban before the Ninth Circuit. You know, of course, that there is a cloud of doubt over whether the Prop 8 campaign organizers who defended the ban at the trial level have standing to appeal Judge Walkerâ€™s ruling. But there is a huge black anvil-shaped thunderhead of doubt over whether a state court can compel state officials to defend a law that they themselves reject as unconstitutional.
Itâ€™s therefore unlikely that much will come of the efforts of the Pacific Justice Institute. But that hasnâ€™t stopped the story from generating excitement. My impression is that we are so starved for Prop 8 trial news that we pounce hungrily on the slightest tidbit.
No News is Good News
Iâ€™m not even at the halfway point in this column and Iâ€™m already scraping orts off the bottom of the news barrel. Did you hear that the Omaha World Herald has decided to print same-sex marriage announcements on its Celebrations page? Welcome to the 21st Century, Omaha World Herald! We saved you a seat.
And hereâ€™s one of my pet peeves, compliments of the recipe section of my local newspaper, where we are instructed on the preparation of â€śpecan-encrusted gorgonzola butter steak.â€ť
Anyone who would subject a prime rib eye to a mĂ©lange of nuts, cheese and butter should have their taste buds examined. Cover the steak with salt and pepper and throw it on an extremely hot grill. Extremely hot. After a few minutes on each side, take it off and let it sit for awhile. Save the pecans and gorgonzola for a side salad, which I personally will skip in favor of simple greens and olive oil.
Oh, the absurd recipe section also features an â€śIncan Quinoa Pudding,â€ť with low fat milk, apple juice and caramel ice cream topping among its many repellent ingredients. Iâ€™ll just have coffee, thanks.
Showdown Ahead In the Badger State
But wait! Weâ€™re supposed to be discussing GLBT news. Sorry, I forgot. I suppose I could tell you about the lawsuit filed earlier this month by anti-gay types in Wisconsin who think the stateâ€™s minimalist domestic partner law violates the constitutional ban on marriage and similar institutions.
This was a story I skipped last week, but itâ€™s worth discussing if only to illustrate the deceit inherent in the conservative mantra that anti-gay amendments are all about â€śpreserving traditional marriageâ€ť and do not aim to harm gay men and lesbians.
In 2006, Wisconsin passed one of those all-encompassing amendments that included a prohibition on any status that was identical or substantially similar to same-sex marriage. In June of last year, the governor and the legislature added a few partner benefits to the state budget that represent roughly 25 percent of the rights of marriage.
That was too much for the antigay right in the Cheese State, who tried and failed to get the state supreme court to strike the program. Now, theyâ€™ve filed a taxpayer suit in lower court, arguing that the paltry collection of couplesâ€™ rights is substantially similar to marriage and must be dismantled.
Since the hard right attorney general, J.B. Van Hollen, refuses to defend the domestic partner program, Governor Jim Doyle will probably assign a lawyer to represent the state against the suit. A bipartisan legislative panel has already concluded that the partner benefits do not comprise a marriage-like status and ergo, do not conflict with the constitution.
The domestic partner registry includes things like hospital visitation, unpaid family leave, funeral rights and other humanitarian gestures that fall well short of civil marriage. But Wisconsin Family Action is having none of it. I noticed as well that Wisconsin Family Action is still run by Julaine Appling, an obsessed nutcase who has dominated antigay efforts in the state for at least a decade, if not longer.
Itâ€™s encouraging that time seems to be running out on fanatics like Appling and her ilk. Iâ€™m not reading about aggressive new young leaders on the horizon of the antigay right, are you? No, itâ€™s the diehards like Appling, Maggie Gallagher, Tony Perkins, etc. who will pursue the penultimate battles of our movement before fading like old soldiers into the twilight of a disgraceful era.
Dog Days of Summer Closing In
I can go no further. There is no more low hanging fruit on the gay news tree, and I refuse to get out the ladder and climb into the high branches. There are some Lutherans towards the top, and I see something out of Kansas up there about a gay candidate for local office who got a death threat, but itâ€™s all just too difficult.
Itâ€™s hot out in Texas today. Triple digits, which reminds me that I have not taken advantage of my annual opportunity to use the word â€ścaniculaâ€ť and/or â€ścanicular.â€ť This is the sort of word that by rights you should only use once a year, and I believe that time has come. A still, sultry afternoon, full of dead air. Summer draped heavily over the back yard, its leaves big and tired, grass pale from the heat. Nothing moves.
I have turned on that harbinger of fall, the U.S. Open, and I am watching unrecognizable tennis players with names like Llodra, Klahn and Chiudinelli suffer on the sun-baked court. Someone has thrown up and a woman has been taken to the hospital by ambulance. On the playing surface, Pam Shriver tells me, it is 109 degrees.
And the canicula claims another day.
Well, thatâ€™s out of the way. Itâ€™s hard to find a context for this evocative word, which of course is a synonym for Sirius, the dog star, and the late summer doldrums that accompany its appearance.
I am lifting my spirits with some cold cucumber soup, made with cucumbers and dill from the garden, some farmerâ€™s cheese and a glass of Puligny-Montrachet compliments of my generous brother-in-law. The trials and tribulations of the gay community seem very distant, and I believe I will cut this column short and switch from tennis to Star Trek Enterprise, which starts in 15 minutes.
Forgive me, dear readers, for giving you short shrift this week.