Well this has been a dismal week for First World economies, has it not? I am indeed thankful that my official topic is GLBTLMNOP news and not the global financial markets.
Itās not been that great a week for gay news either, but thatās only because itās slow, not because the news is bad. There was one important development, however, a widely expected ruling in our favor out of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
The long running case pits transgendered inmates against the state of Wisconsin, which refused, as a matter of state law, to allow transitioning inmates to continue their hormone treatments while in prison.
Under the 2005 Sex Change Prevention Act (I kid you not) Wisconsin became the only state in the country to deny medical treatment to incarcerated transgendered men and women. The law was passed after a trans inmate sued the state, demanding that Wisconsin pay for surgery. But in addition to banning sex change surgery, it banned all other treatments, endangering the health of transitioning inmates out of sheer spite and ignorance.
Three other transwomen sued the state in 2006 and won an injunction that kept their treatments in place while the litigation made its way through federal court. Last year, Judge Charles Clevert struck down the state law in a decision that was upheld by the Seventh Circuit last Friday. One would assume that the Union Busting State would leave it at that, but if they really want to make a name for themselves they can appeal to the entire Seventh Circuit, or to the Supreme Court.
Too bad Wisconsin voters couldnāt manage to strip the GOP of their hold on the legislature on Tuesday.
Bringing In the Bacon
So, I was just searching for something interesting to write about when I stumbled over a controversy at Whole Foods, where some Islamaphobes got bent out of shape by the grocery chainās Ramadan marketing campaign. The story took another twist when someone leaked an internal Whole Foods memo that appeared to distance the company from the entire promotion.
āItās probably best that we donāt specifically call out or āpromoteā Ramadanā¦ā wrote a mystery executive. Whole Foods later explained that the email was not company policy and reflected the view of just one individual. So Ramadan is on!
Can you explain why a grocery store would want to promote a fasting holiday? Just asking. Yes, I know that people eat during Ramadan. I found this story, by the way, when I tried to click on āodd way to cook with baconā and ended up linking to the Ramadan story instead. When I emerged from the business with Ramadan, I could no longer find āodd way to cook with bacon,ā since it was one of those scrolling AOL headlines that came and went.
I was interested only because I canāt imagine what you could do with bacon that would be considered āodd.ā Well, I suppose I can dream up some unusual applications for bacon, but not in terms of cooking.
Moving right along, there was a story out of DC, where five lesbians were assaulted outside a nightclub on July 30 and police did nothing about it. According to the Washington Blade, the women were walking along 14th Street at some early hour of the morning when a couple of guys tried to flirt with them.
(Sing with me: āA couple of hours before dawn. When the streets belong to the cops. And the janitors with the mops. And the glow of the streetlights shining, fills the gutters with gold.ā)
At any rate, the women rejected the advances, and one of them indicated that she and one of her friends were together. This enraged the men who attacked the women, punching them in the face and stomach while reportedly calling them: ādyke bitches.ā
Four police cars arrived and at least seven officers went to the scene. There, they questioned one of the attackers and astonishingly, let him go. They declined to file a report or do anything at all until days later, when the mother of one of the victims demanded some action.
Speaking to a gay advocacy group, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the officers were ālazyā and could face disciplinary action or even termination for their indifference. In a statement August 5, Lanier said she was āappalledā by the incident and pledged that the officersā conduct will be āinvestigated thoroughly.ā According to the Blade, there are also arrest warrants out for the two men, so justice is on the way I suppose.
Bay Area Men Fighting Deportation
I also read, with dismay, about a bi-national San Francisco couple who may well be separated by immigration authorities even though the man who is being deported is the caregiver for his disabled husband.
You may also have read or heard about Australian John Makk, who has been ordered to leave the United States by August 25. Makk has lived in this country for years, marrying his husband Bradford Wells in Massachusetts in 2004. Wells, who has AIDS, cannot leave this country without losing his health coverage.
According to the Advocate, Nancy Pelosi is trying to intervene in the case and Immigration Equality will also fight for the men. As you know, we have seen a number of bi-national couples avoid the worst scenarios as sympathetic judges put their cases on hold and government lawyers find ways to avoid deportation without directly violating the Defense of Marriage Act.
The Obama administration has pledged to āenforceā the Defense of Marriage Act, even as the administration has argued passionately against DOMA in federal court. In immigration cases, however, the Justice Department has suggested that officials focus their energies on criminals and other bad guys, and by implication, leave the otherwise law-abiding gay and lesbian couples alone. A last minute reprieve for Makk and Wells would be in keeping with this policy.
Meet Me in Manhattan
You know what? This is kind of a bad news week for gays and lesbians. Listen to this one. Lambda Legal is going to bat for a woman who was harassed and ridiculed for her gender-bending looks at a Sizzler in Queens last fall. According to Lambdaās complaint, Lisa Friedlander and her two friends experienced the Brunch From Hell at her local Sizzler one Saturday morning in September of 2010.
Friedlander, her roommate and another friend went to the restaurant, paid for the brunch buffet, and picked a table. But as Lisa was helping herself, a Sizzler employee emerged from the back and started screaming at her, calling her names, roughing her up and accusing her of not paying for the buffet.
The tirade got the attention of a couple of other diners, who jumped in with their own insults, calling Lisa a āhe-she,ā a āfucking dykeā and even suggesting she come outside for some lessons in heterosexual sex. At one point, the complaint stated, up to ten Sizzler patrons were yelling and screaming, and several were threatening and shoving.
A call to 911 brought police and an ambulance. Lisa spent several hours at the ER recovering from shock and bruises. Iām not sure why it took so long to sue, but Iām guessing previous attempts to talk to the franchise owner were not successful.
Man. Iām thinking Iāll be avoiding Sizzlers in the future, as well as most places of public accommodation in Queens. The employee, or John Doe 1 as we like to call him, was bad enough. But whatās with the other customers? Where do people go to fill up on hate like this? More importantly, why?
Well speaking of hate, it looks as if we are getting closer and closer to the real fight for the GOP nomination. True, the curtain has yet to rise and the show has yet to start. But weāve been called to our seats. The little bell has rung and we have been obliged to finish our $7 plastic glasses of sparkling rotgut.
So our friend Rick Santorum was hanging out at an Iowa food store the other day, when he showed the crowd a paper napkin and explained that he could call it a paper towel, but it would always be a paper napkin nonetheless. His point? It had something to do with marriage equality. I think our marriages were the napkins and we were pretending to be towels, or vice versa. You know what? I donāt think weāll have Rick Santorum to kick around much longer.
I think we can assume by now that Sarah Palin will stay out of the arena. Newt Gingrich is hamstrung by his empty bank account, his infidelity, a strange looking wife, an erratic campaign and his inexplicable Tiffanyās bill. And Tim Pawlenty is like a little boy who wants to be President, just because.
Hey, I get it. When I was a child, I wanted to be a CIA agent, or first girl on the moon. As it turned out, those dreams required genuine drive and ambition, the discipline to pass the foreign service exam, a fascination for science, for aviation, for physics and the ability to sacrifice short term desires for long term achievement.
Oh, well. I became a news person instead. But T-Paw seems to be stuck in the schoolyard. And unfortunately for him, the American voter instinctively recognizes, and rejects, the candidate who wants the status of President rather than the power.
As for Jon Huntsman, heās had a bizarre roll out to his campaign, donāt you think? I thought heād stake out a fairly large territory of independents and moderate to center Republicans, but he has stalled out of the gate. It was also odd that he embraced the Ryan budget, sending a mixed message.
Michelle Bachmann is Michelle Bachmann, a woman who is running for President to make a point and burnish her tea party credentials, but who has no chance of success and probably knows it.
With apologies to the little guys, it seem as if the Republicans will be faced with a choice between Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. As a loyal Democrat, that selection would normally make my day. But standing on the brink of a possible double dip recession, which could catapult the craziest Republican to the White House, I am concerned.
Earlier this week, Romney signed a five-point anti-gay pledge, promising to support a federal amendment to define marriage in the U.S. constitution. He also pledged to defend DOMA in court, to reverse marriage equality in the District of Columbia (by allowing a public vote), to nominate anti-marriage judges to the federal bench and to establish a commission that would investigate the ādiscriminationā suffered by antigay activists and politicians.
Perry, meanwhile, has positioned himself not just as holier than thou, but holier than everyone else short of the saints and the apostles.
Either one of these men would be a disaster for the GLBT movement and the country, but of the two Iād take Romney over Perry in a heartbeat. Perry has dropped my state of Texas to the lowest rankings in education, lowest percentage of those with health insurance and the bottom ranks of various other categories that I donāt feel like looking up right now. Heās clever, heartless, lacks vision and seems to be a very able campaigner.
In an effort to lighten my mood, I just googled āfun and gay,ā only to find a short porn thing about two guys on a train (which ended before anything graphic took place) and a rambling letter from a 60-something guy with diabetes who was unjustly fired from his trucking job and also broke
up with his boyfriend and business partner.
There was also an inane āare you gay?ā quiz, and a facebook ādiscussionā about whether āthatās so gayā is a slur or a harmless expression.
To sum up, there was nothing āfunā about my search, or about this week in general. Happily, a new week starts rights now and I can hear the fun train roaring down the tracks. Choo! Choo! Chuga chuga chuga.
- Write to Ann Rostow at firstname.lastname@example.org