Oh my lord. I was alarmed on many levels to read that little Tripp Palin has been accused of using an antigay slur. Who exactly is Tripp Palin, for one thing? Is that Sarahâ€™s youngest son, her older son, Bristolâ€™s son? Strangely, it turns out that we are talking about Bristolâ€™s son, a three-year-old, who one would think must be too young to begin both sensing and expressing hostility towards gays and lesbians.
And indeed we can all breathe a sigh of relief because his mother assures us that the toddler was misquoted. Tripp did not call his Aunt Willow a â€śfaggotâ€ť on his new reality show, â€śBristol Palin: Lifeâ€™s a Tripp.â€ť If you listen carefully, you can tell that the youngster actually called Willow a â€śfucker.â€ť
The slip of the tongue came during roughly 12 months of on-and-off filming by Lifetime. Naughty Tripp has picked up some salty language because he is constantly surrounded by adults, Bristol explains (unlike those other three-year-olds who send their time in solitary contemplation of lifeâ€™s mysteries). She feels badly about it, and admits that sheâ€™s doing â€śa terrible job of discipliningâ€ť the boy.
All I can is that we came a few swing states away from putting the Palin family a heartbeat from the presidency of the United States; a family with three-year-olds that lash out with f-bombs when they canâ€™t visit the swimming pool on demand. Think about that, people.
Eat Les Chikin
Iâ€™m not sure exactly whatâ€™s going on with Chick-fil-A, the uber Christian chicken empire with a long history of far right activism and homophobia. A week or so ago, Chickâ€™s president, Dan Cathy, confirmed that he opposed same-sex marriage in an interview with the Baptist Press. That was like Eric Cantor confirming that he opposes a tax raise, but nonetheless it drew a lot of press.
I guess no one had really noticed Chick-fil-Aâ€™s long history of pious gay baiting, but now they have. The mayor of Boston has banned franchises from Bean Town and Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno has pledged to block the chain from putting a store in his district. In Santa Rosa, citizens are planning to protest and boycott a restaurant planned for Mendocino Avenue. And Jim Hensonâ€™s Muppets have cancelled a product tie-in for kidsâ€™ meals.
The controversy has inspired various right wing types to urge all their friends to go out of their way to buy some fare from the foul fowl foodies, so it seems as if a boycott-buycott war is on.
I wish I could help, but since I have never eaten at Chick-fil-A in my life, I cannot make an impact on the balance of trade. But I devoutly hope that our side wins the contest. Plus, I think we have the easier task, donâ€™t you?
The interesting thing to me is that Chick-fil-Aâ€™s corporate values, if you will, were known before the latest excitement. But I guess they werenâ€™t that widely known outside of our community. The reaction, not just from gays but from Muppets and politicians and celebrities, must give pause to PR executives around the country.
Salon.com just came out with a list of the five most conservative fast food outlets, led by Chick-fil-A, and also starring our old friend Tom Monaghan, the Dominoâ€™s Pizza chief who has tossed tons of cash to antigay projects.
Then thereâ€™s the late Carl Karcher of Carlâ€™s Jr., a pro-life zealot who gave money to the (losing) 1978 proposition that would have banned gay teachers in California.
White Castle has given to Republican PACS, as has Waffle House, which just gave a six-figure donation to Karl Roveâ€™s American Crossroads. Not on the list is Wendyâ€™s, although its late founder Dave Thomas was a far right type as well, and Iâ€™m fairly sure he did or said some anti-gay things back in the day that I canâ€™t recall. [Editorâ€™s note: he pulled all of Wendyâ€™s ads from the Ellen Show when she came out of the closet.]
The point is, our community is pretty damn good at slapping down gratuitous corporate homophobia, whether it be fast food, gas stations or hotels. If, as it now seems, our battles are joined by straight allies and people with political power, weâ€™ll be on the winning side more than not.
Busy Times for BLAG
Itâ€™s a tough news week. Not much going on in the legal world, or at least not much that youâ€™d really want me to write about. I was, for example, interested in the fact that the House Republicans who are championing the Defense of Marriage Act in court (aka the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group) have appealed the Dragovich ruling out of Oakland to the Ninth Circuit.
Stop your yawninâ€™! This ruling by Judge Claudia Wilken was handed down a zillion weeks ago, but the House Republicans took no action. I mean, Judge Wilken struck DOMA as unconstitutional just like all those other federal judges, but there was no appeal. Some of us were sort of wondering about the other shoe, thatâ€™s all.
Okay. It turns out Dragovich was decided in late May. I thought it was earlier than that. But, still. The House Republicans usually waste no time in appealing their defeats. Why did they wait two months in this case? Were they overwhelmed with the slew of motions to the High Court? Did they have a strategic conflict? Did they forget?
No matter, Dragovich, which upheld the right of married state employees in California to access federal long-term insurance benefits, now continues on its path towards whatever. I say whatever, because by the time Dragovich emerges from the Ninth Circuit, our other DOMA cases will likely be before the Supreme Court.
Itâ€™s A Crime!
I see that I wrote about Dragovich even though I had not planned to do so. I couldnâ€™t help myself!
At any rate, the Canicula looms, and Iâ€™m not in the mood to wonder in print why Scotland is waiting until 2015 before it legalizes same-sex marriage, or whether rightwing Americans are spreading a homophobic fever throughout central Africa (as is suggested by a Boston think tank called Political Research Associates).
Instead, let me tell you that Mel and I watched Rizzoli and Isles for the first time last night, simply because we have exhausted our tolerance for a succession of crime shows.
Weâ€™ve gone through phases. In no particular order, weâ€™ve recorded and watched multiple episodes of The Closer, NCIS, CSI, CSI Miami, Mentalist and Criminal Minds. Once we start seeing the same episodes weâ€™ve seen before, or once we get bored, weâ€™d switch to a different series. Now, we are on Rizzoli and Isles, a show Iâ€™ve been deliberately avoiding for several reasons.
First, the two leads appear to be sort of gay, but not, an ambiguity that I find irritating. Second, the clips Iâ€™ve seen look dumb. Third, the one time I watched part of an episode, the plot was stupid.
So we watched three shows, which I admit were entertaining. But hereâ€™s the thing - with every new series we watch, Mel and I feel as if we have become greater experts in criminology and forensics. I was aghast to see Rizzoli pick up some â€śtraceâ€ť (as Mel and I call it) from the crime scene without waiting for the CSIs. Thatâ€™s not her job, and making matters worse, she didnâ€™t photograph the evidence. And why is Isles messing with fingerprints? Isnâ€™t she the medical examiner? Where are the lab techs?
Hey, I feel the same professional disapproval when the Miami CSIâ€™s go running around following up on clues and suspects as if theyâ€™re homicide detectives. Hello, Callie? Stop chasing cars and get back to ballistics. And have you noticed that itâ€™s usually a big deal when an officer is involved in a shooting - except for Horatio on CSI Miami, who shoots someone dead every other week?
I must say, the bad guys on Miami CSI donâ€™t fare very well. Either Horatio kills them or they get shot, because they got paraded out of the police headquarters in cuffs right in front of their (armed) archenemy. Is it that hard to bring the suspects out the back door?
I think, perchance, Iâ€™ve been watching too many of these police procedurals. Yet they are the most popular type of show on TV, which makes me wonder whether or not criminals are going to school here. I mean, really. If you decided to murder someone, would you do it in high heels and wear calves leather gloves that you bought with a credit card from some high end store in London? Or would you use disposable latex and pick up some oversized menâ€™s loafers at the Goodwill? I know what Iâ€™d do.
Defense Bill Redux
Republicans in the House have added an amendment to the Defense Appropriation bill that forbids chaplains from performing same-sex marriages on military bases. Is it my imagination, or have we not gone back and forth on the Defense Appropriation bill about ten times this year? Does that bill ever actually â€śpass?â€ť
The amendment is technically a ban on using defense funds to â€śviolate the Defense of Marriage Act,â€ť a leap of logic that only makes sense if you think the Defense of Marriage Act prohibits marriage. It does not, of course. It simply defines marriage as a heterosexual union for all purposes under federal law. Thatâ€™s bad enough, but it has no impact on whether or not couples can tie the knot in the free marriage states.
Military bases in states like New York or Massachusetts are subject to state law, so DOMA does not prevent military personnel, or any federal employee, from getting married. The idea that DOMA should prevent military chaplains from officiating at a legal wedding is equally senseless, but there you are. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) doesnâ€™t really care, and one hopes the Senate will once again remove this little piece of nasty from the bill.
Meanwhile, ABC News announced last month that a military couple in New Jersey got â€śmarriedâ€ť on an Air Force Base, even though marriage is not legal in New Jersey, and therefore the two men presumably contracted a civil union. The headline read â€śFirst Military Base Same-Sex Wedding Held,â€ť further complicating what should be a fairly simple state of affairs.
And by the way, the senior chaplain at that Air Force Base, who attended but did not conduct the aforementioned civil union, has resigned from the conservative Southern Baptist Convention. Itâ€™s not clear if Col. Timothy Wagoner was forced to leave or whether the good chaplain got sick of the moaning and whining emanating from the Baptist crybabies.
Before we leave the military, thereâ€™s another Congressional hue and cry over the decision by the Pentagon to let some troops march in uniform in the San Diego Pride parade. Normally, soldiers may not attend political rallies in uniform, a sensible policy for all concerned in my book. But the Pentagon made an exception for the San Diego parade because the organizers had requested that service members be able to celebrate their new status as openly gay troops.
Quite frankly, that doesnâ€™t make much sense to me. What if the Crazy Conservative Kook brigade wanted stripes and bars at its big protest march? That said, it was a one-time deal, so get over it.
â€śThis decision,â€ť panted Virginia House member Randy Forbes â€śwas an outrageous and blatantly political determination issued solely to advance this administrationâ€™s social agenda.â€ť
Finally, rest in peace Sally Ride. As you know, the first woman in space died from pancreatic cancer this week at the age of 61 and came out of the closet in her obituary. Her generation and her natural Norwegian reticence led the pioneer astronaut to hide her long-term lesbian relationship from public view. Although Ride was out to her friends and family, she never identified with the gay community. But she did help write the notice of her death, which calls Tam Oâ€™Shaughnessy as her â€śpartner of 27 years.â€ť
Ride may have been reticent, but letâ€™s be honest. If NASA had learned she was a lesbian back in 1983, sheâ€™d be on a rocket to the unemployment line.
--A new version of Annâ€™s column is available every week at sfbaytimes.com You can reach her at email@example.com.