At long last this morning (Tuesday) the California Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether Prop 8 proponents have standing under state law to appeal their federal court defeat from August 2009.
I know I sound like a broken record by rehashing this whole thing, but after all, today is a legitimate news day. An oral argument in an actual court! This is the first real action weâ€™ve seen in this case for months and months.
By the way, can we still refer to â€śbroken recordsâ€ť? The ones that used to skip over the same three notes over and over again? I thought the rise of CDs would bring us flawless music, and yet when those things fail theyâ€™re worse than the old scratched LPs. The skips were irritating. But those fuzzy screeching gaps in a bad CD are horrible and seemingly irreparable. And obviously, you canâ€™t use the broken CD experience as an analogy for repeating yourself over and over. The sound of a broken CD is otherwordly and insane, so Iâ€™m not sure whether â€śbroken CDâ€ť will ever find its way into English phraseology. But I digress.
The challenge to Prop 8 was originally filed in federal court against the State of California. When neither the governor nor the attorney general rose to defend the noxious marriage ban in court, the antigay gang that proposed the damn thing was given permission to make their case before U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker. They lost.
When they tried to appeal, however, they were stymied. They werenâ€™t the original defendants in the case, and they were not technically â€śharmedâ€ť by the outcome. So instead of considering the core issue of whether Prop 8 was constitutional, the Ninth Circuit focused on whether or not initiative proponents could defend their policies in federal court when state officials declined to act.
Instead of ruling on this technicality, the Ninth Circuit announced that it would be helpful to know whether or not initiative proponents would have standing under state law. Since the California court had never ruled directly on this point, the appellate judges asked them to consider the matter. After some time, the California court agreed to take on the issue of standing, and after many more months have elapsed, they are finally holding a hearing. We can expect a few more months to go by before they decide, at which point the whole ball of wax will land back in the Ninth Circuit for further examination.
Naturally, if the Ninth Circuit rejects the Prop 8 proponents, they will appeal to the full Ninth Circuit or to the Supreme Court. Here Iâ€™d like to cut to a visual image of pages of the calendar flying off and drifting into space. We can also add an image of a snow covered orchard. See it turn to spring. Now the trees are full and green. And now the colors change. Add a soundtrack if you like. Repeat as necessary.
This case is going somewhere slowly. But as I said, itâ€™s the only game in town this week, so we might as well give it some ink. I gather thereâ€™s a sit-down protest this morning in front of the courthouse, but Iâ€™m not sure what weâ€™re protesting. Marriage discrimination? Federal rules of procedure?
Whatever it is, I am in solidarity.
Canâ€™t Keep that Closet Closed
Can you believe we have another antigay GOP lawmaker caught with his pants down in man-on-man cyberspace? No, Iâ€™m not talking about Phil Hinkle, the married Indiana house member who set up a date with a guy on Craigslist. Hinkle, 64, later explained to the press that he was not gay, and did not really know what was going on his mind when he exchanged several emails with a teenage boy and arranged for a paid sex date in a hotel.
But as I said, Hinkle is not our guy. Hinkle is so last week. This week, we are following the antics of Puerto Rico senator Roberto Arango, another Republican who dutifully cast his votes against gay rights on several recent occasions. Frankly, I didnâ€™t even realize there were any gay measures up for debate in San Juan this year, but I gather there was something about gay marriage and something about adoption rights. No and no, said Roberto.
Arango recently published a self-portrait on Grindr, a naked shot of his rear end taken on all fours through some kind of contortion. Arango resigned a few days later, telling the press that he could not recall if he took the picture, but conceded that it was possible. The lawmaker said heâ€™d been on a diet and lost some weight, so much so that heâ€™d been taking photos of his new physique. This might have been one of them.
He actually said that!
Grindr, of course, is an all male smart phone app that is used mainly for hooking up. Perhaps there are few guys out there using Grindr to meet new friends and exchange movie or book reviews. But those rare Grindr users are not posting close-ups of their nude posteriors on the site.
Well, I hardly know what to say. This is getting to be old hat. And as Iâ€™ve said before, the real question is not, â€śWhy the hypocrisy?â€ť Itâ€™s, â€śWhat are they thinking?â€ť. These are not online avatars. They are relatively public men who somehow think they can expose themselves and solicit sex on the Internet without anyone noticing. Are they stupid? Arrogant? Unhinged? Trying to get caught?
And finally, theyâ€™re such cowards. Why canâ€™t they just tell the truth and accept the consequences? But like the toddler alone in the living room who insists he didnâ€™t break the lamp that crashed to the ground five seconds earlier, these adult men roll their eyes to the heavens and expect us to believe that their evil imaginary twin Timmy was the one soliciting online sex.
Tinkering With the First Amendment
So, I have a public school T-shirt lawsuit. You know. The student is told to remove his or her pro-gay or antigay shirt, and promptly threatens a First Amendment challenge. The school says that it is only acting in order to maintain order on campus. Lawyers note that kids do not leave their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. In general, the T-shirt wins.
I generally root for the T-shirt, gay or straight, as long as the slogan isnâ€™t mean or obscene. And, luckily for me this time, the shirt was worn by one of the good gals, a sophomore at Hoover High in Alabama named Sara Couvillon, who proclaimed: â€śGay? Fine by me!â€ť Sara had worn the shirt several times without incident, but this time, for whatever reason, she was told to take it off â€śfor her own safety.â€ť
Itâ€™s true that a public schoolâ€™s obligation to maintain order gives administrators the power to shut down highly provocative speech. But â€śGay? Fine by me!â€ť hardly qualifies. Even if a fellow student were to react to the sentiment with violence, the schoolâ€™s duty would be to take the violent student off the campus, not give him or her the proverbial hecklerâ€™s veto over Saraâ€™s speech.
In a letter to the Hoover officials, a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Centerâ€™s LGBT office offered this High Court citation from historyâ€™s most famous high school speech case, Tinker v. Des Moines:
â€śAny departure from absolute regimentation may cause trouble. Any variation from the majorityâ€™s opinion may inspire fear. Any word spoken, in class, in the lunchroom, or on the campus that deviates from the views of another person may start an argument or cause a disturbance. But our Constitution says we must take this risk. [It is] this sort of hazardous freedom - this kind of openness - that is the basis of our national strength and of the independence and the vigor of Americans who grow up and live in this relatively permissive, often disputatious, society.â€ť
Happily, the school seemed impressed with the SPLCâ€™s reasoning. A couple of days later, Hoover authorities reversed themselves, noting that since Saraâ€™s shirt did not actually pose a disruption, she could continue to sport the gay-friendly expression. I suppose thatâ€™s a step in the right direction.
Kingâ€™s Killer Not Convicted
Meanwhile, you probably read that Brandon McInerney won a mistrial as jurors in Southern California could not agree on a verdict for the eighth grade killer. Brandon shot his gay classmate, Larry King, in the middle of the school day back in February of 2010. His defense attorneys were trying to win a verdict of voluntary manslaughter, while the prosecutor called it murder. The jury split 7-5 in favor of manslaughter, sending the case into limbo.
Prosecutors will now have to decide whether to retry the 17-year-old, and if so, they will have to decide whether to retry him as an adult even though he was only 14 at the time of the murder (or slaughter, if you insist). Usually Iâ€™m not in favor of trying kids as adults, but I really canâ€™t drum up much sympathy for this nasty little bully with a penchant for swastikas. Call me hard hearted.
As for the other LGBTQ news, it keeps slipping out of my head. Usually I keep about five stories at the front of my mind while I write, but this week they are dissolving as quickly as I can look them up. The new CEO of Apple is gay. But Iâ€™m not sure thatâ€™s a big story. I mean, what can you say?
Good luck, Tim!
Oh, and some people are upset that Chaz Bono is going to be on Dancing With the Stars because heâ€™s a transman. Really? Since when does a slot on Dancing With the Stars require a jump through 1950s All American hoops?
Not that Dancing With the Stars should set the bar for trans-inclusion. Far from it. But please.
There is also a gay cannibal in the news, but Iâ€™ll have to look him up. Here it is, from six days ago: â€śRussian Cannibal Ate Gay Date,â€ť off the GlobalPost website.
Seems the 21-year-old chef, Ivan L, lured his 32-year-old buddy to his Murmansk flat, stabbed him to death, cut off his feet and head, and fashioned meatballs out of the torso. He also uploaded video of the gruesome stovetop scenes onto the Internet. According to a different source, the Independent, the murder took place in the bathtub. After killing his victim, Ivan ran warm water to soften up the corpse for butchering. Oh, and he also made sausages as well as meatballs.
Hereâ€™s the kicker. According to the Independent, Ivan faces 15 years in prison, assuming he is found competent to stand trial. Fifteen years? For eating someone? Seems a bit lenient to me. Ivan explained to police that he wanted to try human flesh. He picked his victim from a gay website because gay men are easier to manipulate and more private than other people. Guys, be careful out there. Particularly when cruising around the Arctic Circle.
Summerâ€™s ending, if you didnâ€™t notice. First we hit â€śSeptember 1,â€ť which is still summer but doesnâ€™t sound like it anymore. Then comes the end of the Labor Day weekend, when I can no longer wear white shoes or pants without hearing my motherâ€™s voice call out from the afterlife to point out the fashion faux pas.
And yet. We all remember that some of the best summer weekends were always the weekends right after Labor Day. The finals of the U.S. Open are on. The tourists are gone from the New England beaches. The renters are off Long Island. Those are beautiful weekends. Still hot. Still summery. But nostalgic and timeless. Caught between seasons.
After that weekendâ€™s done, I always remind myself that itâ€™s still technically summer until September 20 or 21. Whenever. Thatâ€™s the final â€ślast day of summerâ€ť and thereâ€™s really nothing else around the corner. By that time, the Halloween stuff is all over the grocery store, the retail worldâ€™s decoration parade has begun, and it wonâ€™t stop until Easter.
Pumpkins, Turkeys, Santa, New Years, Hearts, Bunnies. One set of iconic images following the next like clockwork. And then finally, the first of the several â€śfirst days of summer.â€ť Easter Monday. Let the grim procession through winter begin. And speaking of the U.S. Open, is Serena on steroids?
- Write to Ann Rostow at email@example.com.