Iâ€™m not happy with my news topics this week. They donâ€™t inspire me.
Take Kalamazoo, Michigan (please!). Back in December, the city council passed a trans-inclusive gay rights bill, extending protections in housing to cover the workplace and public accommodations. The bigot brigade promptly swung into action and the council just rescinded the new law in order to avoid a divisive repeal campaign. (As opposed to one of those unifying and friendly repeal campaigns.)
Great. You know Michigan is one of the most economically depressed states in the country, and what do they do? They pass an anti-gay constitutional amendment (in 2004) that has been interpreted to outlaw domestic partner benefits by state employers, including public schools and universities. That interpretation was developed by the attorney general and confirmed by the high court. But apparently thatâ€™s not enough for the fine folks in Kalamazoo, who also want public policy to embrace job discrimination and the right to kick gay or trans people out of the local restaurants.
Itâ€™s not as if Michigan will recover if gay men and women flock to the state. But deliberately creating an atmosphere of narrow-minded intolerance is not going to attract talented workers or innovative companies to the Mitten State, now is it? Havenâ€™t the powers that be up there ever heard of Richard Florida?
Messy Bears Repulse Columnist
Have you seen those commercials for Michigan on TV? Good luck with that, fellas. By the way, do you want to hear about my least favorite TV ads these days? Well, the list is probably more interesting than a continued discussion of municipal affairs in Kalamazoo, right?
To start with, I canâ€™t stand the scatological bears who hawk Charmin toilet paper, and I really object to the disgusting new commercial with the bear who has inferior paper stuck all over his little bear butt. Itâ€™s gross!
Then thereâ€™s the infomercial for the â€śhearing aidâ€ť that letâ€™s you eavesdrop on conversations across the room, which is simply wrong and unethical. What next? A device to help you shoplift or spy on the neighbors?
I wonâ€™t go on with this, except to comment briefly on the enlarged prostates that seem to have eclipsed erectile dysfunction as the menâ€™s health dilemma du jour. Guys? Is it really that bad out there? We had no idea! At least you donâ€™t have to wait five minutes for a stall, and if I can speak from my experience on the golf course, you donâ€™t even have to locate a special facility. Any old tree will do, so all this complaining seems a bit much.
He Loved Us, Once In Silence
Yes yes yes, Iâ€™m coming back to the world of GLBT news, where much is being made of an old Obama questionnaire from the late 1990s, in which our pending prez told the Windy City Times that he supports same-sex marriage. Butâ€¦butâ€¦but, we stutter en masse, didnâ€™t he tell the American people that he only supports civil unions? Indeed he did, presumably because he wanted to be elected President of the United States. Sad to say, the bland middle ground of civil unions is a lot easier on the electorateâ€™s palate than the wasabi mustard of marriage equality. But you know Obama likes wasabi in the privacy of his own sushi bar.
I say big deal. If Obama secretly supports same-sex marriage, thatâ€™s preferable to a sincere conviction that civil unions should be our final goal. I suspect, in fact, that although he believes in equal rights, he doesnâ€™t care that much either way. Most people donâ€™t. And with the economy on the ropes, war breaking out in the Middle East, health care in crisis and the world facing ecological disaster, gay rights is starting to slip down my own priority list as well.
Iâ€™d put it at number three, right after international stability and economic recovery, but ahead of global warming and education. Donâ€™t tell, OK?
Allegedly Naughty Basketball Player
Gossip time! I read in the New York Post that Knicks center, Eddy Curry, has been sued for sexual harassment by his former chauffeur! I donâ€™t follow pro basketball myself, so I have no idea who these characters are, but it certainly tops the rest of my editorial options.
Anyway, Mr. Curry is accused of greeting the litigious driver with his pants down and suggesting that the employee, um, take on some new responsibilities.
He also allegedly called the chauffeur nasty names, held back salary and expenses to the tune of nearly $100,000, and ordered him to perform humiliating tasks. So says the complaint at any rate. Curry, who is married with children, denies all.
And while I was slumming around the AOL newswire, I learned that the parents who named their son â€śAdolph Hitlerâ€ť have lost custody of all their kids.
The authorities at New Jerseyâ€™s Division of Youth and Family Services removed Adolph, his sister JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, and his other sister, Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell from their home for unspecified reasons on Tuesday. Presumably, the noxious names were just the tip of the Campbellâ€™s parenting skills iceberg. You may remember the family from the incident at the bakery, where store workers refused to write Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler on the three-year-oldâ€™s cake a few weeks back. Astonishingly, the parents attempted to turn the storeâ€™s refusal into a civil rights cause celebre.
OxyContin Got Your Tongue?
Did anyone see George Bushâ€™s final press conference on Tuesday? Why has no one reported the fact that he has either turned the last corner into a cul-de-sac of madness, or he is on some kind of â€śmedication?â€ť
I am serious! There was something off about him, and I am using his standard incoherence as a benchmark. He was rambling. He used silly voices. He was belligerent. He was just nuts. He told reporters, among other bizarre things, that the federal response to Katrina was rapid and effective, adding that he couldnâ€™t understand why the government had been criticized on this count. If he had flown Air Force One to the scene of the hurricane, he said in a petulant voice, he would have disrupted the rescue efforts.
Huh? Does that make any sense to you? In all the discussions surrounding the administrationâ€™s mishandling of Katrina, no one has ever suggested that Bush should have compounded the disaster with a personal appearance during the immediate aftermath of the storm. What was he talking about?
He said he was â€śdisappointedâ€ť that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, which may have been a poor choice of words, or which frighteningly, may simply be an accurate statement.
And one of his biggest â€śmistakes,â€ť he confessed at one point, was appearing under the â€śMission Accomplishedâ€ť banner, thus elevating a minor (albeit symbolic) public relations blunder into a rare lapse of presidential judgment. As for the mission itself? Presumably that went swimmingly.
Supporting Role for Bishop Robinson
But happily for us, it doesnâ€™t matter anymore. Our moronic leader is now to be replaced by a man of intelligence and poise. Oh, and as Joe Biden pointed out, articulate cleanliness. Obama has recently taken the edge off his selection of anti-gay preacher Rick Warren to invoke the Inauguration, by asking Our Gay Bishop, Gene Robinson, to kick off Inauguration week at a ceremony on Sunday. Obama and Biden will join the crowd at the Lincoln Memorial, and the Gay Menâ€™s Choir will sing something too. Do you feel better? Me too, a little. But Iâ€™m still furious about Rick Warren.
In other Obama gay news this week, the prezelectâ€™s spokesman told a reporter that Obama definitely plans to fight for the repeal of Donâ€™t Ask Donâ€™t Tell. Meanwhile, Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin told Detroit News columnist Deb Price that a Donâ€™t Ask repeal bill might come up next year. Yes, that means 2010, so you might as well exhale.
The two openly gay lawmakers told Price in so many words that the Human Rights Campaign agenda remains our communityâ€™s playbook on the Hill. Theyâ€™re all aglow about a hate crime bill, targeted for this summer, followed by the Employment Nondiscrimination Act in the fall. There was no reference in Priceâ€™s column to any attempt to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and/or to open the national borders to the foreign partners of American gay citizens.
I ranted about this last week and a few weeks earlier and continue to bitch about it to all who will listen, so I wonâ€™t belabor the point here. But Iâ€™ll say it again. Repealing the Defense of Marriage Act, or at least attacking parts of it, is the most important legislative goal we have. Hate crime laws, which donâ€™t work to begin with, are probably the least productive use of our limited political capital. Why are we doing this? More rants to come, I promise.
What Do They Want in Gainesville?
Ooops. I have just blown my deadline by eight minutes. And I have another 500 words to write as the fragile hair that holds the sword of Damocles over my head continues to fray.
Up for grabs in the news bin includes a snag in the lawsuit filed against the state of Arkansas by the American Civil Liberties Union. According to the Associated Press, the civil libertarians have suspended their challenge to the Hog Stateâ€™s new anti-gay parenting law, simply because the law has not yet been put into effect. Voters agreed last November that the state should prohibit unmarried cohabiting couples from acting as foster or adoptive parents, so the ACLU sued the state on behalf of a lesbian who seeks to take custody of her abused granddaughter, who is now in foster care. Since the state has yet to terminate the rights of the childâ€™s parents, I gather, the case is premature.
And over in Gainesville, Florida, voters will decide in March whether to roll back all gay and trans civil rights protections, particularly a one-year-old ordinance giving transgendered people the right to use the public restroom of their choice.
The gender identity ordinance was the last straw for the fear mongers in Gator town, who petitioned for a repeal that also strikes any protections not found in state civil rights law. Any of you with a passing knowledge of Sun State statutes knows that gays and lesbians are not cherished members of any protected class, so the measure, if passed, would leave the entire gay community on the outside looking in. I just watched what must be an old television ad urging people to sign the repeal petition, which features a cute little blond girl going to a ladies restroom in the park. Following on her heels comes an unshaven man in sunglasses, ball cap and T-shirt, who looks around furtively before following the little angel into the dark recesses of the toilet. â€śIs this what you want to see in Gainesville?â€ť the text reads. (Or something like that.)
Aside from the massive dose of transphobia injected into the ad, it does make you wonder how smoothly the little minds are working over in Gainesville, where as I understand it, you would need to keep the ordinance in place in order for a transman to be able to use the menâ€™s room. Otherwise, I suppose you would indeed have scruffy looking guys sharing the john with Little Miss Muffet, wouldnâ€™t you? Youâ€™d also have transwomen fixing their makeup next to the urinals, where I suppose some Gainesville gentlemen might feel somewhat ill at ease. Is that what they want to see in Gainesville? Guess they donâ€™t call it the swamp for nothing.
Finally, I did my Gainesville research via Pinknews UK, where at one point I stumbled over the story of a lesbian who murdered her partner with the cord to her dressing gown. I was pleased with this inadvertent discovery, but now I canâ€™t find the site, and I donâ€™t have any more time to look for it because the sword is dangling and my editor just called and I told her I was â€śalmost done,â€ť which I suppose is true. Maybe Iâ€™ll find it for next time, but can you imagine how hard it must be to strangle an adult with a bathrobe sash? Those crazy British lesbian killers are really something.