Of all the disturbing images that struck me during my reluctant but obsessive viewing of the Republican convention, the one that haunts me came from the Thursday night Romney video. You know the one. The otherwise touching presentation of the candidate that was shoved off the networks by the people who decided Clint Eastwoodās deranged monologue would make a better impression on undecided voters.
The video was just fine. Iāve always been a little seduced by scenes of Mitt Romneyās family life. His obvious love for his wife and sons. His jocularity and fun loving spirit. Iām not fan of his candidacy of course, but this is his best side.
That said, there was a small, but significant, vignette that the pundits have overlooked. One of Mittās indistinguishable sons is shown puttering around the house, and pointing out one of Dadās loveable attempts to play handyman. Seems the bulb went out above the stove, and instead of replacing it with a similar working bulb, Mitt grabbed the first thing that came to hand and screwed in a circular globe bulb that was much too large.
The globe worked fine, but since it was not a standard bulb, it stuck out, and blinded anyone working in the area. Mitt responded to this new kitchen dilemma by duct-taping a strip of aluminum foil over the offending light to shield the cook. The foil hung down several inches from the stoveās vent system.
The Romney Son displayed this example of Dadās handiwork with an affectionate laugh. And we all would have laughed with him, exceptā¦ Except that this is the man whoās only claim to the presidency is his businesslike approach to problem solving!
If this is how Mitt Romney handles a dead bulb, how will Mitt Romney handle Syria, Iran, American education policy, the European debt crisis, unemployment, the continuing housing crisis?
And itās not just his inclination to solve the problem with the most convenient temporary solution, even when that solution doesnāt quite work. Itās the idea that when the solution is clearly proven wrong, and indeed creates new problems, that rather than take out the globe bulb and put in the correct size--- which he should have done in the first place--- his instinct is to devise a new solution to the new problem that leaves the original infirmity in place.
Left unsaid is the fact that the bad solution to the problem that was caused by the original bad solution has caused a new problem that we havenāt even addressed. Namely, the kitchen looks horrible. You have an ugly piece of foil taped to the top of the stove. Who lives with that?
No one. Now, although it went beyond the scope of the video, someone will have to solve the problem of the hideous foil, and Iām guessing it will be someone who decides to go to the hardware store and buy a regular sized bulb.
Will that be Mitt? I doubt it.
Republicans? Iāll call your Marco Rubio and raise you the twin Castro brothers. Iāll call your Ann Romney and raise you Michelle Obama. Iāll call your obnoxious and self-serving New Jersey governor and raise you Massachusettsā Deval Patrick, who had the conventioneers on their feet, screaming as one.
Since Iām writing on Wednesday, I only have one Democratic day to compare against the three days of the Republicans. But from what Iāve seen, weād win the match up even if we quit right now. My only complaint from Tuesday night was our friend and champion, Martin OāMalley, the governor of Maryland, who delivered his prime time speech with a moronic grin, looking like a TV game show host on speed.
Most of all, Iāll call your platformās antigay amendment to the U.S, Constitution, and raise you our platformās commitment to equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Unlike the Republicans, who ignored horrific details from their platform (personhood for fertilized eggs, unlimited bullet magazines, no abortion rights for rape victims) the Democrats walked the plank. Their historic commitment to marriage equality wasnāt a bone thrown to the GLBT community, never to be mentioned outside the fine print of the convention paperwork. Almost every speaker I heard made mention of the right to love who you love.
Indeed, this formulation emerged as the official gay rights lingo. Instead of just adding āLGBTā to the familiar list of categories, instead of simply tossing in āgay or straightā to the sing song: āblack or white, Jewish or Catholic, old or young, rich or poor,ā instead of turning our community into just another protected category, the speakers cut to the heart of why weāre in a special category to begin with. Not because of our sex lives, but because of our love lives.
I hate to use the trite term ātipping point.ā Weāve been talking about ātipping pointsā for a decade now, and although weāre making great progress, I donāt feel as if weāve officially ātipped.ā
But in terms of the Democratic convention, the words fit. Weāve gone from outsiders, to sideliners, to headliners. Weāve tipped into the mainstream of the Democratic Party, where eight percent of the partyās delegates are LGBT. I gather Barney Frank is on the stage this evening (Wednesday) and although I find the cantankerous grouch irritating to watch, I appreciate the significance of his speaking spot. Even more interesting might be Wisconsin Senate candidate, lesbian Tammy Baldwin, on the schedule for Thursday night.
By popular request, I will explain to the best of my ability why a federal judge in Boston ordered the state to perform sex reassignment surgery on a transwoman who is serving time for murder.
Basically, the state cannot double down on punishment by denying appropriate medical treatment to a prisoner. None of us like murderers.
But we donāt deny them a stent or a cast or an MRI or an artificial limb or a knee replacement. We canāt say, well so-and-so killed his wife, so who cares whether or not he has blurry vision? No cataract surgery for you buddy!
Whatās changed in recent years is the medical and psychiatric view of gender dysphoria. Universal ridicule has given way to an understanding that untreated transgender men and women are dealing with a debilitating handicap. As such, the eighth amendment rights of transgender prisoners are taken seriously by most courts.
Not too long ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ordered the state of Wisconsin to provide hormone therapy to trans inmates, overturning a legislative attempt to outlaw such treatment. And itās also noteworthy that the IRS has determined that reassignment surgery and treatment is now a deductible medical expense. It used to be considered elective or cosmetic surgery.
Trans discrimination in the workplace has also been beaten back by judges on both sides of the political aisle, who have begun in the last decade or so to put some steel into Title VIIās ban on gender stereotyping. And lawmakers are adding transgender protections to the antidiscrimination statutes in cities, counties and states around the country.
So getting back to Boston, the question of whether to perform an inmateās sex change is not dissimilar to the question of whether to prescribe antibiotics to a prisoner with strep throat. Standard medical treatments are required for murderers behind bars along with the rest of us.
Preacher Is As Preacher Does
So hereās something. Nine āpreachersā were arrested in New Orleans over the weekend and charged with violating a ban on people or groups that disseminate social, political or religious messages on Bourbon Street between sunset and dawn. The men were bothering the partygoers at Southern Decadence by spouting antigay commentary.
Hmmm. Iām not sure on what basis the news media has designated these men as āpreachers.ā A few of them are in their early 20s, which seems a little young for the term. Plus, what exactly is a āpreacher?ā It implies a religious status, but in truth I suppose anyone could make the claim, right?
But also, since when can New Orleans ban political speech on a particular street at a particular time? Maybe the city has a legitimate interest in preserving the atmosphere in the French Quarter for the lucrative tourist trade. Maybe the ordinance is more of a check on disturbing the peace. Maybe the ban is constitutional since a person could just go over one block and evangelize to their heartās content. Whatever. The bottom line is that a bunch of loud young men were yelling slurs at the gay participants in the annual event. Eight were arrested for violating the city code and another man, um āpreacher,ā was charged with punching a police officer.
Straight Men Donāt Wear Teal
In other news, Iām seeing a lot of new headlines about John Travoltaās alleged gay lover. I havenāt clicked on them, becauseā¦oh just because.
Does anyone doubt that Mr. Saturday Night likes to walk on the wild side? More importantly, does anyone care?
Far more interesting to me is the idea that Illinois Congressman Aaron Schock might be gay. Why? Because the Republican Schock has an antigay voting record and insists heās as straight as an arrow. How delicious it would be to open the closet door and catch Mr. Schock cowering behind a pair of black leather pants and a sequined cowboy shirt!
So, do we have any evidence to suggest that Schock is deceiving his public? Iāll let you be the judge. According to the reports Iāve read, Schock once attended a White House picnic in white jeans, a hot pink gingham shirt and a teal belt. He also posed shirtless on the cover of Menās Health, looking for all the world like a devoted gym rat. Oh, and heās single.
I donāt know about you, but for me, the teal belt clinches it. The hot pink shirt? That could easily be a simple case of metrosexual style. But a teal belt? Sorry folks, the manās either a professional golfer or heās gay. Maybe Mr. Schock hasnāt yet recognized where his own heart lies.
Do I Dare To Drink A Gin and Tonic?
I only have room for one more news item, but thereās nothing out there that screams for coverage. There are only whispers.
āAnn?ā I hear a soft murmur.
āDo you know how horrible they are to gays in Liberia?ā
I pause and listen more closely. Was that my imagination? Were the trees rustling? But there it is again.
āHank Williams Jr. is a homophobeā¦gay days in Vegasā¦shhhhhā¦doctor in Australia did something badā¦ hate crime in southern California.ā The voices drift lightly on the wind in a soft chorus of GLBT news. Nearly inaudible. I canāt quite catch them.
Perhaps thereās a reason for what can only be described as my disinterest in the ebb and flow of gay things happening around the globe.
Perhaps instead of detailing our communal trials and tribulations, I should be sitting by our round kiddy pool, basking in the Texas heat with a biography of Antonin Careme and a tall glass of gin and Fever-Tree ā¢ bitter lemon over ice. With a touch of Compari and a twist. Not just any ice, but the square cubes that I use only for cocktails.
Yes, dear readers, it is September. But the summer lingers. It lingers through the week after Labor Day, which is always one of the most beautiful weekends of the season. School has started and the summer people have left the beach. But the summer isnāt done. One last glorious weekend, made perfect by nostalgia, by death in the air, by timelessness.
Oh, Iām not talking to you, San Francisco. I know itās still 60 degrees just like it was three months ago. Iām talking to you, New York. Cheers!
You can reach Ann at email@example.com.