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    May 23, 2010

    The Rand Paul reality for gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Rand paul senate republican kentucky civil rights gays
    Some Republicans are trying to brush it off as the kind of debate you have in you freshman dorm at 2 a.m.  Not so for us gays.

    The objection raised by Rand Paul, the GOP Senate nominee from Kentucky, to the role of government in the enforcement of civil rights laws in the private sector is very real, and has been raised repeatedly by conservative Democrats and Republicans alike to explain away their opposition to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and other gay civil rights measures. 

    Paul has suggested that the marketplace would take care of itself when it comes to mistreatment of minorities by private business owners.  Consider this timely example from ABC News, taken from a diner in the New York City -- hardly a bastion of anti-gay hysteria -- where almost no one comes to the defense of two gay couples with children being ejected from a restaurant by a waiter because of no other reason but their sexual orientation...

    The libertarian argument against the public accommodations provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, much like the "small government," "pro-business" opposition to ENDA today, is not in and of itself racist or homophobic, but it undoubtedly lends creedence and cover to those who are. And since it's still being trotted out during the civil rights battles of this era, Republican leaders should be called to task for not consigning it to where it belongs -- those late-night dormitory arguments of theory and abstract.

    May 14, 2010

    Is brown the new gay?

    Posted by: Chris

    Immigration equality banner gay immigration rights binational couples
    Meet the new scapegoats for social conservatives in this country:

    In its perversion of the professed conservative desire for checks on government intrusion, the [new Arizona immigration] law evokes the McCarthy era's war on so-called sex deviants. That reign of error in the early Cold War, as historian David Johnson documents in his 2004 book Lavender Scare, focused the resources of the federal state on thousands of trained and taxpaying workers. It succeeded in ferreting out hundreds of homosexuals and served them up as trophies to placate the prejudice and grand-standing ambitions of a few Congressional overseers. …

    The past is not the only guide toward greater solidarity with immigrants. One would think an entire decade of antigay ballot measures that played on stigma and bigotry to ban recognition of same-sex partners' freedom to marry would make the gay community staunch foes of anti-immigrant bias and its deployment in state law. That is mostly the case, in part because thousands of LGBT people are themselves immigrants or have partners or family members who must navigate the exploitation, suspicion, ignorance, and outright hate that greets immigrants, undocumented and otherwise.

    Let's be sure to stand up for them (or us, for our gay Latino amigos) the way we want to be defended ourselves. Not to mention that we desperately need the support of groups like LULAC and La Raza to make sure comprehensive immigration reform includes gay binational couples so that gay Americans can sponsor their partners for residence here and not be forced into "love exile."


    May 12, 2010

    That's what he said

    Posted by: Chris

    Eliot spitzer elena kagan lesbian gay princeton
    Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace after spending tens of thousands on prostitutes, on whether Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is gay or not:

    “I did not go out with her, but other guys did. I don't think it is my place to say more.”

    Spitzer and Kagan apparently ran in the same social circles during their collegiate days at Princeton.

    Once more into the 'outing' mess

    Posted by: Chris

    Brian betts gay high school principal murder victim washington post
    Perhaps one silver lining from the horrible tragedy that is Brian Betts' murder will be a review by the Washington Post of its antiquated policy of when to report a story subject's sexual orientation. We've seen the issue arise in the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court (more on that later) but the Post ombudsman took it on in connection with reporting on the killing of the popular D.C. high school principal, who was closeted by the paper's coverage even though he was out to friends and family before his death.

    The Post's policy is:

    “A person's sexual orientation should not be mentioned unless relevant to the story... When identifying an individual as gay or homosexual, be cautious about invading the privacy of someone who may not wish his or her sexual orientation known.”

    The policy in and of itself is fine, but the application of "relevant" has resulted in setting a bar that is much higher if a person is gay than it is for those who are straight. My guess is that no WaPo reporter even consults the policy before reporting that a murder victim, or beloved principal, or prominent businessman or politician is heterosexual. And yet the kid gloves come on before a reporter will broach those same story subjects if they are rumored to be gay.

    I have long held that the same rules ought to apply to everyone, period. If the Post is doing a feature on a high school principal, then he/she will of course be asked if he's married, partnered, etc. The reporter ought to ask the question and print the response, whatever it is. "Outing" comes into play only if a reporter delves behind an answer, or a non-answer, into the private life of the person -- something I agree should be very rare and only necessitated by the person's sexual orientation being highly relevant and newsworthy.

    In the case of a murder victim like Betts, his sexual orientation ought to be reported without hesitation if he was out to friends and family -- as was the case here. The fact that the victim was apparently lured into meeting his killers on a phone sex chat line makes the information even more relevant -- both to his story and as a public safety message for the gay community at-large.

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