This is a critical week in the life of our vibrant and colorful LGBTLMNOP community. On Monday, the justices of the Supreme Court reconvene to consider their upcoming docket. On their list, they will find the several challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, cases that they will almost certainly accept in some form or another. They may take them all, even though only one of them has been reviewed by a federal appellate court. Or they may take just one. Or they may take some combination. Hell, I donâ€™t know.
By the way, I think of myself as well versed in grammatical structures. I graduated from college and have been writing this column for nearly twenty years. So why havenâ€™t I figured out when to use â€śwhichâ€ť and when to use â€śthat?â€ť Iâ€™m almost tempted to look up the difference but the little editors in my word processing program are happy enough to correct me, so I donâ€™t have to bother. Maybe my English teacher wife will explain it if I ask nicely.
So, you might ask, if everyone expects the High Court to review DOMA this year, why is this week so critical? Itâ€™s critical because the Court will also announce whether or not they will take the challenge to Prop 8.
Cross your fingers and hope the Court declines review. Once again, marriage will be legal in the countryâ€™s most populous state. And we will not have to spend the coming year in constant anxiety, worrying that the Court will limit marriage rights with either an antigay or a muddled plurality ruling.
The bottom line is that the Court is likely to strike DOMA, but unlikely to rule that marriage rights are fundamental for same sex couples.
Ergo, we want them to accept the DOMA cases, but we want them to avoid the generic fight for marriage inherent in the Prop 8 litigation.
Oh, oh, I hear some of you saying. Why shouldnâ€™t we go for the whole ball of wax? Why should marriage rights be denied our brothers and sisters in Montana and Georgia? The answer is that ours is a strategic legal war for equality. Striking DOMA and re-legalizing marriage in California represent two giant steps forward. Winning marriage rights at the ballot box in November (in Washington, Maine or Maryland) would advance us even further. Banking this progress will put national marriage rights within our grasp. Going for broke prematurely, by contrast, could easily break us for a generation.
Let me digress to presidential politics for a moment and confess that the current wave of bad news for Mitt Romney is making me very nervous. Obamaâ€™s numbers have been declining for the last week or so in Nate Silverâ€™s statistical model. The Mitten seems to have survived his foreign policy stumble with little damage. He might even survive the fund raising video as well, even though many of the liberal pundits have called it a fatal gaffe. I see a lot of chickens about to hatch, but Iâ€™m afraid to count.
Given that the President didnâ€™t suffer from last monthâ€™s job numbers, itâ€™s tempting to embrace the common wisdom that all but a few voters have unshakeable views that wonâ€™t be swayed by political ripples. Weâ€™ll see.
But itâ€™s actually a little worrisome to think that the election might be decided by those people who, even now, are â€śundecided.â€ť
Undecided? If you bothered to register to vote, how could you be undecided at this point in time? Sometimes you see these insufferable people interviewed in some focus group, running through their confused thought processes with a self-satisfied air about them, and revealing a vast ignorance about the issues.
â€śUm, I just think Obama could have done more things for the middle class.â€ť
â€śI guess Iâ€™m leaning towards Romney because he knows how to fix the economy.â€ť
Get these dimwits off the air! If television producers want to give us a sense of the votersâ€™ esprit, then pick three confident Obama supporters and three informed Romney supporters and ask them what they think. The last people we should be listening to are the morons who canâ€™t make up their minds between two starkly different campaigns.
By the way, did you hear that the guy who hosted that Boca Raton Romney fundraiser is a private equity partner who was known for throwing orgy like summer parties at his house in the Hamptons? Not that thereâ€™s anything wrong with that!
Justice is Bustinâ€™ Out All Over!
Back to the law for a moment, itâ€™s worth noting that our gay rights lawsuits have begun to diversify. Not so long ago, our marriage suits were cookie cutter cases. Weâ€™d get a bunch of admirable same-sex couples, pick a state to the left of center and file a state court claim for marriage.
Our losses did not penalize us by setting a federal precedent, and our victories won us marriage footholds in states like Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut and elsewhere.
Now, weâ€™ve mostly exhausted the easy marriage states, although we have state marriage cases still going on in New Jersey, Minnesota and Illinois. There might be others that have slipped under my radar.
Obviously, we have a slew of DOMA challenges. At least half a dozen, even though the entire question will soon be answered by the High Court as mentioned earlier.
Significantly, we have filed two federal marriage suits in states that fall under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit. In Nevada and in Hawaii, we argue that the federal constitution does not allow the state government to discriminate against gay couples. The Hawaii litigation, which we lost thanks to a Neanderthal judge, is now under appeal to the Ninth Circuit. And the governor is on our side, for the record.
The hope, of course, is that the Ninth Circuitâ€™s Prop 8 ruling will oblige the appellate court to uphold marriage rights throughout the western states, although the Prop 8 opinion was written in such a narrow fashion that its legal reach beyond California is unclear.
Finally, now that we have opened the door to federal lawsuits, we are no longer hesitant to advocate for gay rights outside the marriage arena.
In Arizona, where the legislature reversed domestic partner benefits for state employees, we went to federal court on behalf of the gay state staff and managed to win an injunction against the law from the Ninth Circuit. That ruling has been appealed to the Supreme Court by the lovely and talented Jan Brewer, but no one expects the Court to accept review. An injunction is not a ruling on the merits of the case so it would be premature for the justices to interfere.
So there you have it! Now, arenâ€™t you glad you read that whole recap? Hold the presses. The news scroll under MSNBC is telling me that a former Yale student is under arrest for posting something about killing children on an ESPN website. And my question is: Who cares where this psychopath went to college?
Dumb and Dumber
In news tidbits this week, we learn that the French government will send a marriage bill to lawmakers on October 24. Vive les socialists! On the other hand, Australian politicians defeated a marriage equality bill, as was expected. Still, itâ€™s irritating. Thanks for nothing, Mates.
I also read that Chick-fil-A has circulated an internal memo, pledging to enforce a nondiscrimination policy for gay staff and swearing off antigay political donations. The memo was reported by the Chicago-based group, The Civil Rights Agenda.
Clint Eastwood appeared on the Ellen Show and said the Republicans were â€śdumbâ€ť to schedule his unscripted ramble on prime time. He also said he supports same-sex marriage based on his libertarian views.
Thanks Clint, but my interest in your political attitudes has waned in the last several weeks. I also find myself repelled by the ads for Clintâ€™s new movie. Just seeing his face annoys me, and not because he was so inane. The man was crude, dismissive and ideologically superficial.
And finally, Iâ€™m sure you read that Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobat was suspended for three games after writing â€śTu Eras Mariconâ€ť under his eyes for unknown reasons. So I guess it means â€śyou are a fag,â€ť although it could mean â€śyou are a wimp.â€ť What an idiot. And who was he writing to?
The suspension is another sign that while professional sports may be one of the last bastions of homophobia, even the strongest redoubts are beginning to give way.
Meanwhile, thereâ€™s still much work to be done in this arena. I gather that the entire European continent is breathless about the anonymous gay soccer player who gave an online interview in Germany. Angela Merkel urged the man to come out of the closet, telling him â€śyou need not fear.â€ť The athlete said that the price he pays to play for Bundesliga is high. â€śI have to be an actor every day and go into self denial.â€ť
Be Prepared For Pedophiles
So we learned this week that the Boy Scouts have covered up numerous instances of pedophilia, preferring to quietly oust offenders rather than call police and report the crime. Are we surprised? The craven indifference to damaged kids by institutions that care only for their public image has got to stop.
The Boy Scouts arenâ€™t directly responsible for sex abuse. The Catholic Church isnâ€™t directly to blame for child rape. Jerry Sandusky is one man, not an entire university. But when these organizations look the other way they become almost as culpable as the pedophiles they protect.
And they sink to this level in order to protect their reputations? What would you think if the Boy Scouts called law enforcement and got a child molester off the street and behind bars? Would you think, oh no, a pedophile in Boy Scouts! Or would you think, good for them.
Theyâ€™ve got their eyes on the ground. Iâ€™d guess the latter.
Where are kids, there are pedophiles, period. Willie Sutton robbed banks because thatâ€™s where the money was. Itâ€™s logical to assume that the Boy Scouts would attract sexual criminals.
Itâ€™s also important to point out that pedophiles are not openly gay men. Theyâ€™re deviants like the happily married Jerry Sandusky, or emotional dwarfs like the pervert priests. The Scouts are right to be vigilant. But banning gays and lesbians from their ranks diminishes the organizationâ€™s soul while doing absolutely nothing to filter out sexual predators. This new revelation just tells us that the Scouts, for all their moralizing, donâ€™t give a damn about kids.
Wow. I just reread this column. Thereâ€™s not a lot of levity. Court cases, pedophiles, politics. Where, you might ask, are the gay serial killers?
Where are the scandalous conservative lawmakers caught with their pants down in the park while their wives and kids finish dinner alone?
Some weeks are like that, I guess. Iâ€™m reminded however of a GOP politician who gave a speech this week that included sympathetic remarks for the wives of elected officials. Itâ€™s tough, he said, to stay at home and worry about the shopping and cleaning and the children, when your husband is busy making law. I forget who this was, but it was pretty jaw dropping. These days, even the most hide bound traditional campaigners at least give lip service to the notion that not all politicians are men. Not this joker.
Oh, and can you believe Mitt Romney told a talk show host that he likes to sleep in â€śas little as possible?â€ť You know what? Sleeping in as little as possible means sleeping in the nude. So the question is, does he sleep in the nude? Or does he sleep in his Mormon underwear?
I really donâ€™t want to contemplate either image.