Thereâ€™s lots going on this week. Itâ€™s a veritable news extravaganza and I am a festive cornucopia brimming with colorful tidbits of information.
Actually, itâ€™s not all that great, but I wanted to psych myself up with an exciting lead sentence to jump start my column.
The first sentence is always the hardest. Does one dive right into the cold waters of the most serious news story? (In this case, Iâ€™d say, the ruling in favor of a non-biological mother out of the Vermont Supreme Court.) Or, alternatively, does one languorously dip a toe into the warm edge of the lapping surf. (Where, for example, we learn that a 44-year-old woman in Aachen, Germany, called police in the middle of the night to complain that her 45-year-old husband was neglecting his conjugal duties.)
I think the latter, donâ€™t you?
According to Reuters, the couple had been sleeping in separate beds for several months, and the wife had had enough. She woke up her husband and demanded action. When he refused, a â€śrow broke out,â€ť and she called the authorities. A police spokesman told the wire service that the officers â€śdid not feel able to resolve the dispute, let alone issue any kind of official order.â€ť
I feel a song coming on! Sing with me.
Isnâ€™t it romantic?
Music in the night, a dream thatÂ can be heard
Isnâ€™t it romantic?
Moving shadows write the oldest magic word.
I hear the breezes playing in theÂ trees above
While all the world is saying,Â â€śYou were meant for love.â€ť
I can see the scene in my mindâ€™s eye. The moonlight slanting through the darkened bedroom. A lumbering snore emanates from a heavy lump in the bed. She watches for a minute. A touch of apnea brings a moment of silence, followed by a startled inhalation. He sputters back asleep, and she has reached her breaking point.
â€śWake up and make passionate love to me you son of a bitch,â€ť she screams, pulling a pillow out from under his head and pounding it repeatedly on his face. Roused by the shock, he mumbles incoherently.
â€śNow! Or Iâ€™m calling the cops. I mean it, Hans!â€ť
In another scoop from the naughty newshounds over at Reuters (via Rex Wockner) a reproductive healthcare charity has just staged a â€śMasturbate-a-Thonâ€ť in central London to raise money for the Terrence Higgins Trust. Up to 200 people were expected to join the pleasure party, selecting any of four venues including a â€ścomfortâ€ť area, a â€śmixedâ€ť area, a womenâ€™s space and a menâ€™s space. Participants generated donations depending on how long they indulged themselves and how many orgasms they had.
Faking was forbidden, although it was not clear how that prohibition was going to be enforced. Maybe the organizers assigned a panel of heterosexual young men to detect women cheaters, based on their keen awareness of the nuances of female sexuality.
A spokeswoman said religious groups were initially outraged, but, as the newswire wrote, â€śafter people had heard what the event was about, most had approved it.â€ť Well, that was nice of them. Apparently the denizens of the religious right in Britain just need someone to point out the big picture and they come around.
Smoking Staple Gun
Over on our side of the Atlantic, in fact over on our Pacific coast, the Christian establishment was not so complacent about the goings on at the San Diego Pride festival, where an undercover religious reporter observed a woman being paddled in her underwear at a leather booth and a volunteer getting shot in the chest by a staple gun. The salacious revelations were written up in a horrified tone on a Web site called the conservative voice, in an article that said â€śyoung minorsâ€ť were â€śpossibly exposed to obscene sexual demonstrations.â€ť
Hey. I wasnâ€™t there. But I kind of doubt that the operators of the Leather Realm let the kids waltz into the S&M tent to watch the chicks take their licks. Ditto for whoever was messing around with the office supplies. One solution might be for, um, sensitive people to stay away from the Folsom Street Fair and keep out of, letâ€™s say, menâ€™s after hours sex parties. And for the record, I donâ€™t think sex in full view of a disinterested public is anything to crow about either, although it doesnâ€™t sound as if that were the case.
I think Iâ€™ve mentioned my annoyance at walking to Burger King with two eight-year-olds during the San Francisco Pride Parade one year, when our route took us by three unattractive naked people having sex on top of a van just off Market Street before a small crowd of spectators.
â€śHey kids! Look at the flying saucer! To your right Wayyyyyy off in the distance! See it? Oh, itâ€™s gone now. You know flying saucers go a million miles an hour. No, really! I saw it.â€ť
If theyâ€™d have been cute, it would have been slightly less irritating, but it would have remained an inappropriate display.
Enough of the wading around. Itâ€™s time to jump into the news.
In Colorado, it looks as if one of the anti-gay petition drives succeeded, one failed, and a pro-gay petition drive also succeeded. Confused? Welcome to the Rocky Mountain State of Confusion, where it looks as if three gay-related measures will share the ballot in November.
First is a proposition advanced by the legislature to create a broad ranging domestic partner registry. Second is a measure proclaiming marriage as a union of one man and one woman, but staying silent on the question of civil unions or domestic partner rights.
So far, so good, in terms of clarity. A third notion, advanced by a contingent of extreme anti-gay activists, involved banning marriage and â€śsimilarâ€ť unions and aimed to undercut the aforementioned domestic partner plan. As it turned out, this idea failed to win enough support to make the ballot. However, gay groups were already in full pursuit of a defensive strategy, petitioning for an amendment that puts language in the constitution making clear that marriage and domestic partnerships are not â€śsimilar.â€ť That measure appears to have made it to the ballot as well, even though its original raison dâ€™etre has gone away.
Itâ€™s possible that many people will close their eyes and vote for all three of these amendments, patting themselves on the back for â€śsplitting the differenceâ€ť between gay rights and far rights. That would actually advance Colorado into a select collection of states that offer same-sex couples most, if not all, of the marriage rights under state control. The group includes Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and California. New Jersey has some statewide domestic partner rights, and Hawaii has a mechanism for registering, but doesnâ€™t offer much in return.
Exchanging domestic partner rights for a marriage ban in the state constitution is a tough transaction. But itâ€™s better than the deal we get in most states, where the amendments are dumped on our backs like a load of cowpies and we donâ€™t even get a handiwipe.
Have I been in Texas too long?
In other amendment news, I havenâ€™t officially put Arizona on my list of states with a vote this November, because the good guys are still challenging the proposed amendment in court. As for Illinois, where petitioners are trying to qualify a non-binding anti-gay referendum on marriage for the fall, our allies are challenging the signatures. I forget where that stands, but I care less about non-binding referendums than actual amendment votes.
Plus, Iâ€™m a little discouraged by the overwhelming numbers of people who have voted in favor of these nasty pieces of work, and I sort of have the childish urge to announce that â€śI donâ€™t careâ€ť about constitutional amendments any more. â€śLet them pass.â€ť â€śWeâ€™ll win in the end.â€ť â€śTheyâ€™ll be sorry some day.â€ť â€śIâ€™ll move.â€ť
This attitude is a bit of a dereliction of duty to the community. Plus, I do care. This time around, the buzz is that Wisconsin might be the first state to reject one of these amendments in November. But Iâ€™ve had my hopes dashed before, in Michigan and in Oregon for example, where amendments passed handily despite last minute wishful thinking. Iâ€™m trying to avoid allowing myself to feel that tingling edge of anticipation as far as Wisconsin is concerned, because Iâ€™ll just wind up in the pit of depression with a lead ball handcuffed to my ankle and no key. Iâ€™ll probably end up hoping for an upset win, despite myself.
Wishinâ€™ and hopinâ€™ and hopinâ€™ and wishin.â€™ How does that one go again?
Let the Games End
So all the gay games are over and done with. You know, of course, there were two sets, the Gay Games in Chicago and the Out Games in Montreal. They were both fine, as far as I can tell. I have not delved deeply into the rivalry and its implications for future Games, because itâ€™s just not my thing. I think top level gay athletes should go to the Olympics. If everyone else wants to run around every two or four years and compete in over-30 flag football or ballroom dancing, by all means go for it.
From what I gather, Chicago is to be praised for organizing a profitable event on short notice without the help of millions of dollars in public subsidies. Montreal, in turn, produced a professional and well attended week without the aid and experience of the Federation of Gay Games, which got into a fight with the Montreal group early on in the planning process and dumped them for Chicago. Or maybe Montreal dumped the Federation. I forget. All I know is that now we have two games groups and two games. A tad excessive in my view, but let me know when they introduce naked lesbian pool whiffle golf, the latest sports fad chez moi.Â
Itâ€™s my lucky day! I just went to the store and found a DVD called 18 & Ready to Fuck #2 lying on the street. â€śThese perky little nymphs finally get to experience what their naughty minds have been waiting for.â€ť Itâ€™s four hours of fun, featuring stars like Monica Sweetheart, KylieWilde, Ashley Blue and Taylor Rain. Itâ€™s rated XXX from â€śPure Filth Productions.â€ť
Tonight, itâ€™s 18 & Ready to Fuck #2 or my Netflix copy of Flight Plan. Decisions, decisions.
Vermont? He Twirled a Button, Without a Glance My Way
Did I mention a ruling out of the Vermont Supreme Court back at the top of this column? The decision came in one of the most interesting cases confronting gay advocates, the child visitation dispute between two former partners that pits the state of Vermont against the state of Virginia. The women, Lisa and Janet Miller-Jenkins, are referred to in court papers as â€śLisaâ€ť and â€śJanetâ€ť for â€śclarity,â€ť as the court notes. Here, we will refer to them respectively as â€śBad Momâ€ť and â€śGood Momâ€ť for the same reason.
Not to belabor the scenario, the couple moved from Virginia to Vermont in order to tie the civil union knot after their daughter was born in April 2002. About a year later, they split up. And in September of 2003, Bad Mom Lisa took the little girl, moved to Virginia, renounced homosexuality and joined the church.
In November the women untangled their civil union in a Vermont court, where Good Mom Janet was acknowledged as a co-parent under Vermont law and given a visitation schedule. Bad Mom then proceeded to ignore the court order, and asked a Virginia court to declare that she was the sole parent, based on the Loversâ€™ Stateâ€™s ban on recognition of any same-sex civil union or marriage. The Virginia court agreed, and the litigation went up to a Virginia appellate court, where the judges have been waiting for the Vermont high court to speak first.
At issue is not just whether Virginia is allowed to ignore Vermontâ€™s original jurisdiction over the coupleâ€™s misfortunes. Itâ€™s not. Itâ€™s also whether Vermont treats the parties to a civil union exactly as it would the parties to a marriage. Indeed, it does. Under federal law, heterosexuals are not allowed to jump from state to state to avoid adverse family court rulings. Neither are civil union partners.
Moreover, even if the women had not been civil unionized, the high court ruled that Good Mom Janet would have been considered a parent under established case law that applies to men whose wives or partners conceive through artificial means. Such men, assuming they are aware of the plans in advance, are considered fathers.
Although thereâ€™s a lot of talk about how this case could â€śgo all the way to the Supreme Court!â€ť Iâ€™m betting the Virginia courts will rule in favor of Janet based on the pretty clear fact that Vermont has original jurisdiction over the matter. But if they donâ€™t, the Supreme Court is the only arbiter of a state to state dispute like this one. So weâ€™ll see.