USA: Marriage Map Update
The New York Times takes a look at what may come next:
Elated by their first ballot victories, in four states, advocates of same-sex marriage rights plan to push legislatures in half a dozen more states toward legalization as they also press their cause in federal courts. They are also preparing for what they hope will be another milestone: the electoral reversal of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman, in Oregon in 2014. Nine states and Washington, D.C., have now legalized same-sex marriage. Though it remains unpopular in the South, rights campaigners see the potential for legislative gains in Delaware; Hawaii; Illinois; Rhode Island; Minnesota, where they beat back a restrictive amendment last Tuesday; and New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage in February.
NYT Reports On Bear Culture
The New York Times has posted a lengthy slideshow from photographer Alan Charlesworth’s (above left) look at bear culture. Peter Moskowitz writes:
- Mainstream culture tends to depict gay men as either comically effeminate, or supersculpted and image conscious. Mr. Charlesworth had a hard time relating, or being attracted to, those kinds of images. He said that while he questioned his sexuality in high school, he couldn’t find anything that reflected it, or an outlet to express it. He said he had a hard time figuring out who he was, but he knew he wasn’t like the well-manicured, muscular men with a penchant for designer clothes and musicals on those television shows. So Mr. Charlesworth remained confused, first about his sexuality, then about his place within gay culture, until he stumbled upon a Web site dedicated to “bears.” It was the first time he’d seen images of big, burly men who were attracted to other men. He said he felt like he’d finally found a home.
Mexico: Armando Montano, A 22-Year-Old Out Gay Journalist, Found Dead In Mexico City
Armando “Mando” Montano, a 22-year-old news intern for the Associated Press in Mexico City this summer, was found dead early Saturday, June 30, according to an AP report. Montano was gay and a member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.
According to the AP, “Montano’s body was found in the elevator shaft of an apartment building near where he was living in the capital’s Condesa neighborhood. The circumstances of his death were being investigated by Mexican authorities.”
The AP details the outstanding career on which the young journalist already had embarked:
In December and January, Montano covered the Iowa presidential caucuses as a news intern for The New York Times, and last year worked for several months as an intern covering policy and finance for The Chronicle of Higher Education in Washington, D.C.
“Mando was a standout young journalist, with a rare passion and exuberance for life and for people,” said Richard Berke, an assistant managing editor at The New York Times. “He accomplished so much and touched so many in a short time, and his potential was truly limitless.”
Tributes to Montano popped up throughout social media on Sunday, including from a friend and fellow young journalist, Aaron Edwards, who is an intern atThe New York Timesthis summer. Edwardswrote, in part, of Montano’s love of journalism — and hope for love:
About one year ago, when Armando Montano and I went to the Chips Quinn Scholars Program, a journalism training program geared to young journalists of minority backgrounds, he started beaming when he found out that because we were Chips Quinn Scholars we would get free access to the Newseum, an interactive journalism museum in Washington, D.C.
But his excitement stemmed from more than the fact that he could now go and geek out over historic front pages and archival photographs from The New York Times and The Washington Post whenever he wanted. Armando, or “Mando” as many called him for short, was excited because he was adamant and steadfast in the idea that he would marry the love of his life there.
“I’m going to get married in the Newseum, Aaron. I’m going to get married at the freakin’ Newseum.” he would tell me. Sure, to some it might sound like a joke. But to Mando, this was going to be a beautiful and ironic reality. He would pull some strings, maybe lobby for a few months in D.C., maybe cut some bribes with the executives of the Newseum. (He was kidding on that last one…or was he?)
Mando was sure that he would stand on the balcony of that building one day and say “I Do” to a man who loved him enough to understand and cherish a guy whose quirky soul led him to want to get married atop a national journalism museum.
Marissa Evans, another young journalist,wrote:
He had just graduated from Grinnell [College] in Iowa and this fall he was shipping off to the University of Barcelona for journalism school. Looking through my Gmail chats with him, I had only started talking to him on August 1, 2011. Our friendship is built upon 72 hilarious chat sessions plus countless Facebook comments/likes and Twitter mentions and retweets.
We had some of the very best conversations imaginable about journalism, Facebook creeping on cute boys we liked, our hopes, our fears and many freak-outs during the internship offer waiting game. We were each other’s cheerleaders and in fact, he was one of the first few people I told I had accepted The Washington Post’s internship offer for this summer. It was such a wonderful day when he told me he was off to Mexico to report for the AP and also put his Spanish to great use. The caps he used to convey his excitement will forever put a smile on my face.
According to Edwards, Montano’s first AP byline was published long before his internship, in 2010, whenMontano wroteabout same-sex marriages being celebrated at pride in Argentina that summer.
ALSO:Montano had beena Metro Weekly Coverboy back in August 2011. Asked at the time what he was most grateful for, he replied, “To have a lot of supportive people in my life.”
Oh my… And just this saturday June 30th was Pride Weekend in Mexico City. La Condesa, the neighbourhood where he was found, is a very gay friendly place. So, if this turns out to be a Hate Crime, this is gonna shock the LGBT Community here even more.
My thoughts go out to his family.
Maureen Dowd On The Catholic Church
Via her column on The New York Times:
“The church insists it’s an argument about religious freedom, not birth control. But, really, it’s about birth control, and women’s lower caste in the church. It’s about conservative bishops targeting Democratic candidates who support contraception and abortion rights as a matter of public policy. And it’s about a church that is obsessed with sex in ways it shouldn’t be, and not obsessed with sex in ways it should be. The bishops and the Vatican care passionately about putting women in chastity belts. Yet they let unchaste priests run wild for decades, unconcerned about the generations of children who were violated and raped and passed around like communion wine.”
“My Dearest Maureen, I have a confession to make. While some may think you sound like a delusional weepy woman, don’t listen to them. You see, I was in on those meetings with the bishops when we hatched plans to stick it to women and sabotage the Democrats. We met over drinks. Plenty of them. Except for one bishop who said over time women could become our equal, all of us agreed that you gals need to be kept in your place. As you properly note, this means being subjugated to the lower caste, just the way we snookered Mother Teresa.
“You are only partly right about the Democrats. In fact, starting last year our goal was to rig the Republican primary so that Romney would win. Why? Because then we could pull his Mormon strings without being accused of running the government. So far, so good. Just don’t tell Mitt. We are obsessed about sex. Indeed, when I meet with the bishops, it’s the only thing we talk about. Admittedly, it sometimes feels like I’m at a frat party, but boys will be boys. There is one difference: at frat parties, chastity belts for women are never discussed, but with the bishops, nothing is more important.”
MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts Covers NOM Scandal
The New York Times has already picked up this story:
Posted at the NYT’s Caucus Blog:
“The strategic goal of the project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies,” reads a portion of the memo, describing an initiative called the “Not a Civil Right Project.” The project’s goal, according to the memo, is to recruit blacks who oppose gay marriage to serve as spokespeople for the group, then “provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.” Another initiative, described under the heading “Internationalizing the Marriage issue: A Pan-American Strategy,” is to convince Hispanic voters that efforts to legalize gay marriage would force them to assimilate to “the dominant Anglo culture.” The memo suggests that the strategy was inspired by successful efforts to outlaw same-sex marriage by initiative in California in 2008, when the measure passed with strong support from black voters, who turned out heavily to support Barack Obama for president. Brian S. Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, did not immediately return a call for comment on Tuesday.
Examining Israel’s Gay Rights Record
The New York Times posted
“Israel and ‘Pinkwashing,’ ” by Sarah Schulman (Op-Ed, Nov. 23), is the perfect example of critics of Israel refusing to accept any good news related to that country.
The Israeli government is undoubtedly highlighting Israel’s largely progressive stance on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and thriving gay culture.
That’s what’s called public diplomacy, and it’s what all countries, including the United States, do.
To label this as somehow sinister must mean that the United States is engaged in “jazzwashing” or “techwashing” when it uses music or touts its high-tech innovators to audiences and opinion makers overseas.
Israel, like any other democracy, has its flaws. Its settlement policy is destructive, the occupation of the West Bank is untenable and its government is furthering the country’s isolation and distancing it from its original vision of being a “light unto the nations.” It is also quite advanced on lesbian and gay rights; we can only hope to make such progress here one day.
Rather than bashing Israel for promoting its lesbian and gay community (whose progress, considering the clout of religious political parties ever since the state’s founding, is all the more remarkable), Ms. Schulman ought to take off her blinders and laud such change.
There’s no pinkwashing here. Many of us can see Israel as it is, warts and all, and be happy that, with respect to lesbian and gay rights, Israel is still trying to live up to its original vision.
Arlington, Va., Nov. 23, 2011
The writer is the author of “Between Sodom and Eden: A Gay Journey Through Today’s Changing Israel.”
To the Editor:
Sarah Schulman, in support of her accusation that Israel engages in a “deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life,” cites no evidence other than Israel’s public attempts to highlight its stellar record on gay rights in comparison with its Arab neighbors.
Moreover, Ms. Schulman does not — because she cannot — refute the fact that Israel is indeed far ahead of its Arab neighbors on gay rights.
Instead of feebly trying to distract from and denigrate Israel’s irrefutable human rights achievements, Ms. Schulman should give Israel the credit it deserves for protecting the rights of sexual minorities. Separately, we can discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about which reasonable people can disagree.
New York, Nov. 23, 2011
To the Editor:
Sarah Schulman, by her inability to distinguish between lesser and greater evils, does a disservice to the cause of gay rights, which she champions.
Two examples: In a widely publicized 2008 case, Israel granted residency to a gay West Bank man to live with his Tel Aviv partner, citing risk to the Jenin man’s life if he were to remain in the Palestinian territories as a homosexual.
Unsurprisingly, a Palestinian gay rights group noted in the article, Aswat, is forced to operate out of Haifa out of fear of intimidation by the Palestinian authorities.
Ms. Schulman shouldn’t allow perceived failings relating to Palestinian rights to overshadow Israel’s profoundly progressive gay policies.
Boston, Nov. 23, 2011
NYT: Bisexual Men Exist!
Dan Savage comments:
The NYT covers the “science discovers bisexual men exist” story. Science reporter David Tuller overlooks the science-proves-bi-guys-exist-by-doing-exactly-what-bi-activists-condemn-as-biphobic angle—the angle I ran with in this post about the study last week—focusing instead on the there’s-just-no-pleasing-some-people angle:
- A widely publicized study published in 2005, also by researchers at Northwestern, reported that “with respect to sexual arousal and attraction, it remains to be shown that male bisexuality exists.” That conclusion outraged bisexual men and women, who said it appeared to support a stereotype of bisexual men as closeted homosexuals. In the new study, published online in the journal Biological Psychology, the researchers relied on more stringent criteria for selecting participants….
- The new Northwestern study was financed in part by the American Institute of Bisexuality, a group that promotes research and education regarding bisexuality. Still, advocates expressed mixed feelings about the research. Jim Larsen, 53, a chairman of the Bisexual Organizing Project, a Minnesota-based advocacy group, said the findings could help bisexuals still struggling to accept themselves.
- “It’s great that they’ve come out with affirmation that bisexuality exists,” he said. “Having said that, they’re proving what we in the community already know. It’s insulting. I think it’s unfortunate that anyone doubts an individual who says, ‘This is what I am and who I am.’”
Yeah, it’s unfortunate when anyone doubts an individual who says “this is what I am and who I am.” I mean, think of how much Ted Haggard, Phillip Hinkle, and Marcus Bachmann have suffered, right? But it was only after researchers dropped guys from the study that they didn’t actually believe to be bi—it was only after they acted on the doubts they had about some guys who claimed to be bi—that they were able to get this data. So… doubt’s a double-edged sword.
OP-ED: Larry Kramer Says “I’m Being Tarred for Something I Did Not Say”
The Advocate reports:
It is very difficult to take a strong position in the gay world without being, at the least, misunderstood, and at the most extreme, vilified mercilessly. I suppose it’s like this in the straight world as well. Perhaps I shouldn’t bitch so when I’m taken to such extremes as a recent quote from me in The New York Times has provoked. I have always maintained fervently that in our world, in any world, you have to speak loudly and boldly to be heard at all. And my loud voice, which I cherish and try to use as much as I can to aid causes and beliefs I support, is one I wish everyone else also possessed and used. God, whoever made us, gave us voices to use, to speak up with. So I shouldn’t complain when my anger comes back to hit me in the face. Usually I don’t. Usually I’m pleased when my words provoke a usually passive population into getting off their asses and, well, using their own voice.
I am upset this time, though, because I’m being tarred for something I did not say. And this misstatement in my behalf is now escalating beyond sane margins and I feel the need to step in and respond, to hopefully turn this into what I believe is known as “a teachable moment.”
I did not say, “Larry Kramer Hates Gay Marriage,” as the Times quote has now allowed many bloggers around the world to revise, rewrite, and circulate like mad bulls seeing red.
Here is what I wrote and submitted to The New York Times:
“The historic and cultural significance of this moment is that once again the gay population of this country continues to accept second best. These marriages, in whichever state, are what I call ‘feel-good marriages.’ They convey little in the way of benefits (and in some instances they are even financially punishing to those who embark on them). Compared to the benefits heterosexual marriages convey, gay marriages are an embarrassment — that we should accept so little, and with so much hoopla of excitement and self-congratulation. Most straight people who are congratulating us so effusively don’t understand that these marriages share none of their federal benefits and entitlements, the right to inherit without punishing taxation, the right for our joint incomes not to be taxed so hideously high, the right to share insurances — there are over one thousand benefits worth money that the federal government bestows on heterosexual marriages and which our state marriages don’t. So why do we continue to get so excited when so few worthless crumbs are thrown our way? I have from the beginning never understood the philosophy and tactics of our various organizations who appear to be calling the shots on this issue. If we are to wait for a majority of states to recognize gay marriages, we’ll all be dead. When are we going to recognize that until the Supreme Court blesses our union, we continue to be worthless and powerless, which is the way our enemies wish us to remain. When will we face up to the fact that no sooner does a state grant us marriage, than our enemies immediately tie up the courts in endless litigations to disallow them, as in the monstrous mess that has become California. Our enemies have bottomless pockets to fight us with. It has been discovered that the biggest contributors to the California wars are and have been the Mormon and Catholic churches. I do not disparage any gay couple’s desire to wed in New York, or anywhere else, and in so doing feel and take joy from this act. But let us all recognize that beyond this euphoria, these marriages are hardly worth the paper they are printed on. And once again, I can only raise the cry: how long are we as a people going to accept such shabby and unequal treatment?”
This is what The New York Times reduced the above complicated message to:
“Larry Kramer, the playwright and longtime gay rights activist, said that for as long as the federal government continues not to recognize same-sex marriages, the celebrations in New York on Sunday would be misguided.
“’These marriages, in whichever state, are what I call feel-good marriages,’ Mr. Kramer said. ‘Compared to the benefits heterosexual marriages convey, gay marriages are an embarrassment — that we should accept so little, and with so much hoopla of excitement and self-congratulation.’”
Now this response of mine has been headlined across the globe, from Broadway to the West End, from Kenya to New Zealand, as “Larry Kramer hates gay marriage,” followed by many commentaries about what a crank I am, what an old fart I have become, coupled with that classic gay insult, “and he’s so ugly,” ending with “when is he ever going to shut up?” As I said, I’m used to this. It comes with the territory. I just wish that all of us could read and digest and comprehend my complete statement as above and realize what I am really saying: We are being bought off, once again, with only a minuscule fraction of what we are entitled to as equal human beings under our country’s Bill of Rights.
Believe me when I say that I very much want to get married to my partner, but only when that marriage is equal to what heterosexual marriages convey by law, the law of the United States, and not just New York State.
And I do not disparage those who choose to marry under the present woefully unequal conditions. I just wish that they, and all gay people everywhere, would realize that they are accepting so little when we are pledged so much more by and in this one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Larry Kramer is a veteran gay activist, playwright, and author known for writing The Normal Heart.
Dan Savage On The Virtues Of Infidelity
From a Mark Oppenheimer’s article for The New York Times, here’s a citation of Dan Savage’s opinion about monogamy:
The mistake that straight people made was imposing the monogamous expectation on men. Men were never expected to be monogamous. Men had concubines, mistresses and access to prostitutes, until everybody decided marriage had to be egalitarian and fairsey. [Rather than granting women] the same latitude and license and pressure-release valve that men had always enjoyed, we extended to men the confines women had always endured. And it’s been a disaster for marriage.