Sunday, June 26, 2005

What Is This, Lazy Editor Day?

Following close on the heels of John Aravosis's mis-ascription mentioned below, we now have a howling oversight on the part of Mike Rogers to report.

In the Comments section of his screed over the Euan Blair internship, Mike, in one of his latest attempts to appear fair and reasonable, says the following:

I do not care what the sexual orientation of Euan Blair is. He is 21 year old who -- on the basis of age alone -- is not eligible to be reported on this site. (His status as "intern" also disqualifies him.)

Then later:

There's no need to attack young people in this work. I won't tolerate it here. In fact, there are a number of stories I have held back on simply because the life of a young person would be changed with all of the attention...for that reason alone I have held back on some of my reporting.

Ah, but you see, Mike, you've been more than willing to do so before and on multiple occasions.

I particularly like this statement from the last (emphasis mine):

Here's a picture of the intern crowd at a Florida House Member's office and I can tell you that at least one of the men in this picture, like you, is gay.

Want more entertainment? Read the comments from the first quote and the second quote -- and make your own conclusions as to the genuine nature of Mike's comments when his past behavior patterns of what he allows to be posted is 180 degrees opposite.

Finally, I wonder how long the comment I made will stay up? If that link dies, you know Mike's back on an erasing kick....LOL.

Is the Blog Secretary Out to Lunch?

When I viewed a news item this morning about how Tony Blair's son will be interning with House Representative David Drier (R-CA) for three months, I wondered how quickly it would take the "gay activist" set whose unsuccessful whisper campaign about Drier being gay failed spectacularly to get him unelected last fall to react to it.

Mere minutes, I gather.

However, what's hilarious is that they got the story of their own smear wrong, as I quote below:

Dreier, you may recall, received the "Roy Cohn Award, in recognition of 24 years of working against gay and lesbian rights while living as a gay man" by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Only problem is.....the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force doesn't give out a "Roy Cohn Award".

Is there a correction as to who does? Yup..... buried in the Comments section and reflected nowhere on the main blog (as of 1:12 PM Central Daylight Time).

Even given the improbability that John Aravosis and his fellow bloggers forgot an outing campaign that they themselves pushed and promoted, that correction hit the comments at 11:18 AM Americablog time -- and John has made three posts since then.

This is rapidly moving past "honest mistake" and into "attempt to secure legitimacy for a failed campaign by falsely ascribing it".

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Obligatory Comment on Andrew Sullivan Post

OK, here we order.

From Andrew Sullivan's side, here's the article that started this whole controversy on which I feel the requirement to comment.

Next, the blogosphere reaction:

Michelangelo Signorile

Boi From Troy

Gay Orbit (and Gay Orbit again)


And in response, Andrew Sullivan himself.

Finally, North Dallas Thirty's response:

Sully's right.

Let's be honest here on a few matters:

-- Bareback sex FEELS better than sex with a condom.

-- You will not necessarily be infected if you have unprotected sex with an HIV-positive person.

-- You can live a full and rich life with HIV, regardless of whether or not you take meds.

-- Meds have made it possible for HIV-positive gay men to survive, for all intents and purposes, indefinitely -- or at least for far longer than they used to survive.

-- People who are on HIV meds have a legitimate medical reason to use steroids and hGH and, as a result of choosing to do so, may appear more buff and sexy.

On the other side:

-- When you have unprotected sex, you are trading peace of mind and a completely-healthy body for sexual stimulation

-- You may be infected with HIV the first time you have unprotected sex with an HIV-positive individual.

-- HIV can kill, maim, or cripple you, regardless of whether you are on meds or not.

-- Meds are powerful, expensive chemicals on which the long-term exposure data is at best scanty -- and once you are infected, you may not be able to survive without them.

-- The reason that being on HIV meds is a legitimate one to take steroids and hGH is simple -- steroids and hGH slow or stop the wasting that these medications (and HIV) can cause which turns muscled circuit boy into hollow-cheeked starvation victim lookalike.

What individuals like Signorile and Weinstein seem to be missing is that HIV infection (and other STDs, for that matter) is a logical consequence of what the gay community encourages. We put our highest emphasis as a group on sexual expression. It's what to a great degree governs our culture, our gatherings, our language, our businesses, and even our humor. That's not necessarily right or wrong -- it just IS. However, in a society where sex is paramount, sexually-transmitted diseases can be expected to be endemic.

Whether we like it or not, the gay community and its attitudes have, like the human immunodeficiency virus itself, changed and mutated to accomodate the alterations in its environment. Before, unsafe sex was akin to Russian roulette. Now, with meds and undetectable viral loads, it's a lifestyle choice -- you can take some risk in exchange for greater sexual satisfaction without it being an automatic and immediate death sentence.

I will at this point make a clear distinction between what I see as Weinstein's attitude and as Signorile's attitudes.

In the case of Weinstein, his is one of prevention because HIV/AIDS is dangerous -- a perfectly-acceptable reason and hypothesis. His statement reminds me of the crushed car lesson that was dutifully repeated on our high school's lawn on an annual basis to show us the dangers of drinking and driving -- a lesson that, given the number of my classmates that were involved in alcohol-related traffic incidents, was both spectacular visually and in terms of its failure rate.

The problem with Weinstein's thinking is that HIV is, in the mind of most gay men, very similar to alcohol-related wrecks in the minds of my classmates -- something that will happen to someone else who isn't as smart or lucky as I am. In order to modify their behavior, they must be presented with alternatives that are BETTER than the undesirable behavior -- and let's face it, bareback is always going to beat out protected sex in terms of pure sexual stimulation. However, what protected sex provides -- peace of mind, the satisfaction of taking control over your health, avoidance of marathon pill-popping -- can outweigh the sexual stimulation aspect. Prevention of HIV/AIDS requires those kind of frank discussions, rather than people waving photographs of the dead -- especially when the "Get AIDS and you'll die" is disproved on a daily basis by people like Sully.

In the case of Signorile, though, HIV/AIDS represents two things -- power and control. With the specter of hollow-cheeked victims, money and sympathy can be guilted out of heterosexuals -- and robust citizens like Sully, especially robust citizens who will not do as they are told in exchange for token sympathy, directly threaten that. Within the gay community itself, HIV/AIDS provides a convenient moral scorecard for people like Signorile to "prove" that they are "better than so-and-so" because so-and-so is positive. He represents a perverse admixture -- claiming his sympathy for AIDS victims, but publicly tearing them down because of their sero-status.

In summary, one can argue from a community level that HIV/AIDS prevention is an excellent idea, given its ability to undercut the discrimination that exists (i.e. donating blood, donating sperm), currently based on the logical point that men who have sex with men are far more likely to have HIV/AIDS than men who have sex with women exclusively. In addition, HIV/AIDS represents an enormous outflow of dollars and resources for the gay community which could be an enormous help in educating voters about gay issues.

However, what it ultimately boils down to is that one's HIV status is now, more than ever, a matter of personal choice, and needs to be accepted as such, without bemoaning the lack of consequences.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Cliffs Notes on Durbin

I have but two questions related to the whole Dick Durbin affair:

1) Why did Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) make his now-infamous remarks comparing the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay to that under the Nazis, Pol Pot, and the Soviets during debate on the Senate ENERGY bill?

2) Why did the very same rightwingers who are making such a big deal about the publicizing of Durbin's remarks by al-Jazeera do such a great job of publicizing the remarks themselves?

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I Hope to God This Is a Typo....

I was struck by an interesting paraphrase of statements made today by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services committee, during today's hearings (emphasis mine):

Levin said there was "no military settlement without a political settlement."

He said the Bush administration should tell the Iraqis that if they do not meet their deadline for drafting a constitution -- August 15, with a possible six-month extension -- the United States will consider setting a timetable for troop withdrawals.

That "not" in "do not" is what I hope the typo is....but unfortunately, it seems to be reinforced as not being such by the following statement:

"We must demonstrate to the Iraqis that our willingness to bear the burden ... has limits," Levin said.

Apparently what Levin thinks is that the Iraqis are malingerers -- they're not writing a constitution because that means they're forming a real government, and if they form a real government, they'll have to start weaning themselves off the military equivalent of welfare and start fighting themselves.

This to me is an excellent example of the veiled and vaguely-racist contempt that the Democrats hold for the Iraqis, as exemplified by the commonly-heard argument that if the Iraqis didn't want Saddam as their ruler, they should have rebelled and kicked him out. As the immense number of mass graves and people in them in Iraq shows, the will to rebel wasn't the problem -- the ability to fight against someone who had no compunction about gassing, bombing, using tanks, and unleashing an army over a half-million-strong (counting the Fedayeen, etc.) on his people was.

The example of the Marsh Arabs is perhaps one of the best ways of showing how Saddam Hussein crushed rebellion. Not only did he kill thousands outright, he systematically destroyed an entire ecosystem to deprive them of their livelihood, their culture, and their group cohesion, and virtually ensure that they could not resist him. This was, for lack of a better comparison, the Kristallnacht for half a million people, an effect which is only now starting to be undone. For us to put that into perspective as Americans, the rough equivalent would be for our government, in order to suppress a rebellion, to level everything in the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut, kill nearly a million people, and leave the remaining population cut off from their jobs and food supply, forced to leave their homes and families just for survival.

Of course, what Levin seems to be forgetting is this:

Iraqis are to vote on the proposed constitution in a referendum by October 15. It must be ratified by a two-thirds majority of voters. If approved, elections for a permanent government would be held by December 15.

Of course, Levin wants the United States to say, in essence, "If you don't elect a government, we're leaving." Brilliant strategic move on his part; since virtually every Iraqi wants the Americans to ultimately leave, they are now rewarded whether they form a government or not. The question then becomes who would benefit the most from a government NOT being formed and a state of anarchy without any stable central force whatsoever to rein in excess; that's not too difficult to ascertain, because it's very similar to Taliban Afghanistan. I think we can safely say that it won't be the bulk of the Iraqi people who are beneficiaries.

The Iraqis should of course be encouraged to form a stable, final government as swiftly as possible, and it was indeed a gross and terrible mistake on the Bush administration's part to be as naively optimistic as they were that the Iraqis would do so in a hurry and without substantial armed opposition. However, neither allowing the Saddam regime with its brutality, international defiance, and threatening behavior to persist, nor a selfish withdrawal that would allow Iraq to collapse into Talibanesque anarchy, was or is in the best interests of the United States, the Middle East, and ultimately the world.

The simple fact is that the Gulf War was the time for Saddam's reign to end. The United States and the world chose otherwise, and the bill for that decision is now being collected. We cannot escape that fact or its responsibility, either by arguing that we should have asked for a few more years' extension, or that the vapid "inspection process" be continued, or that the war was "sold" based on assumptions that ultimately turned out to be incorrect, or that we could not possibly have estimated how long it would take.

Ultimately, history will judge that we did the right thing; however, it will also record that we did it at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons.

UPDATE (7:30 PM CDT): Things get stranger and stranger. This is what the latest update is saying:

Sen. Carl Levin, the panel's ranking member, agreed that setting a timetable would be counterproductive and would "give an incentive to insurgents and jihadists to simply outlast us and would also increase the chances of civil war on our departure."

But the Michigan Democrat said that Iraqi leaders must be encouraged to meet deadlines for creating a new constitution. The Iraqis face an August 15 deadline to draft a constitution to be put before voters in October.

So Levin thinks that setting a timetable would be counterproductive, give incentive to the wrong people, and increase the chances of civil war -- but he wants to threaten the Iraqis with setting one as an "encouragement" for Iraqi leaders.

Does that make ANY sense?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Where in the World was North Dallas Thirty?

One of the annoying things of a currently-long-distance-but-soon-to-be-living-together relationship is the fact that you don't see each other enough. On the other hand, one of the positives about it is exactly that -- when you do see each other, the joy is heightened. Such was North Dallas Thirty's recent weekend with his San Francisco "schweetie", to borrow a term from GayPatriotWest.

The weekend started with the Saturday-morning flight to Norman Mineta San Jose International Airport. Lest any of you think NDT's sense of proximity is less than optimal, you would be right, but the fact that I had a pending reduced-mileage award that had to be taken by July 1 made the decision for us. What's also nice about flying to SJC as opposed to SFO (San Francisco International) or OAK (Oakland International) is that, if you're flying American, the flights are usually emptier. This time was no exception -- the luxury of three empty seats for one of you is a beautiful thing.

Those of you who have flown into SJC on American know that, in general, the airport is a monument to ugly and cramped, especially strange given the prodigious amounts of money that were once being spent in Silicon Valley. However, on the windows of the glassed walkway that leads from American's gates to the terminal core and outside, Microsoft created a nifty chalk drawing ( linked to their their current advertising campaign) of a line of fans holding up signs, photographers, news outlets, etc., as if you were a major celebrity arriving and walking down the red carpet -- a nice touch indeed.

Of course, the "schweetie" was waiting -- and off we went back to San Francisco.

The remains of Saturday and most of Sunday were consumed with walking around and shopping -- in the Castro, at Costco, Nordstrom Rack, and at Trader Joe's -- a grocery-store concept that I WISH we had in Dallas! It's funny to watch grocery stores, he runs off in six different directions and grabs what looks interesting, while I take a list and get nothing else -- and in any other type of store, the pattern reverses.

On Monday, we worked most of the morning, him on his stuff and me on mine (thank goodness for remote access); then, for the afternoon, we headed to the Haight district of San Francisco, from which Blog Ally Dunner of Dunner's Stunners currently hails. The entertainment value of this famous area of San Francisco is twofold -- one, the vast array of shops selling everything you can imagine, especially the "pre-owned" clothing shops, and two, the sheer people-watching value of seeing tourists of every nation and tongue mingle with people dressed like no nation and every tongue-piercing. We worked our way up and down the district and finally ended up at Amoeba Music -- which is now on NDT's Index of Forbidden Stores (don't ask how much I dropped there).

As a nice aside Monday night, we were invited to the reception for the Friends of the San Francisco Library to celebrate the opening of the Out at the Library exhibit -- which I highly, highly recommend. Yours truly had the pleasure of meeting there Luis Herrera, City Librarian of the San Francisco Public Library, California Assemblyman Mark Leno, and former Ambassador to Luxembourg James Hormel, all of whom made excellent speeches concerning the necessity of recognizing and preserving the history of gay rights and our unique culture as a community -- which NDT strongly and absolutely supports. Too often we don't recognize our contributions and the legacy of centuries of glbts before us -- and we should preserve both those links to the past and the communities we've made uniquely our own.

As always, Tuesday evening came too quickly, and after a wonderful dinner with "Schweetie"'s sister and goodbye, I was off again to Dallas, landing WELL after midnight and returning to my empty bed. Sigh.......

Thanks especially to Dunner and to Josh_Jasper for the restaurant recommendations; this time we stayed in, except for one quick foray to Blue on Saturday (trust me, we bought enough at Costco to feed an army of bears, much less the two of us), but the "schweetie" and I will definitely check them out next time.

Peace, out.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Because That's Where the Money Is....Or At Least, Is Borrowed

I noticed an interesting piece today on MSN concerning how states rank in terms of overall consumer debt load, including credit cards and car loans, but excluding mortgages. MSN even included a lovely interactive map to show the relative rankings of the states in three groups -- highest, middle, and lowest.

I had three thoughts upon viewing this:

-- People are carrying some rather hefty amounts of debt for those average amounts -- in short, generally half of the people in the state are carrying MORE than that.

-- This map would have been more useful if it had shown average debt as a percent of annual salary, especially if it was going to argue that "cost of living" was the primary driver of debt amounts. Sure, Kansans may carry a lot less debt than Rhode Islanders, but their salaries tend to be lower as well. It's a bit deceiving to compare them straight-up without tying it back to salary and purchasing power

-- What is the weird and spooky connection that makes this map look so much like the 2004 Presidential election results? Even stranger, why does it look so much like the House and Senate results as well?

Friday, June 17, 2005

Service with a Sneer

As much as I fly for business and pleasure, I've gotten used to the concept that something is going to go wrong, so you might as well plan for it and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn't. Blog Ally LabKat recently published an aptly-named post detailing her recent horrific experience; it inspired me to brave flashbacks and nightmares to relate one of my similar stories.

To begin, it was just after 6 PM Central on Sunday evening. I was bumped at check-in from a flight from Chicago to Norfolk, VA because O'Hare had arbitrarily changed their screening deadline for accepting checked baggage and I had missed it by two minutes (bear in mind, I was WAY early for the flight). Of course, this was the last flight of the day to Norfolk and I had to be there the next morning.

Thus did the following events transpire.

1) Asked to board flight and have luggage sent following morning, only to be told that it violates security regulations for my luggage to travel on a different flight than the one on which I am.

2) Asked to be given boarding pass to take checked bag through security for screening and gate-check, only to be told that security would not let bag of that size through x-ray machine (as people walk up to screening line with the Samsonite equivalent of steamer trunks and are waved through). Make note to self to lie on checked baggage in future.

3) Desk agent offers choice of standby departures -- Boston with early morning flight to Norfolk (meaning a wonderful fun-filled night in Logan International Airport) or Reagan National (three hours by car from Norfolk over some of the most heavily-traveled highway in the United States).

4) Elect Reagan National and then, in an orgy of poor judgment akin to Napoleon's attack at Waterloo, gives bag to desk agent to check through to National.

5) Run to gate, confirm with person standing there -- presumably gate agent who knows airline rules, since she has access to the computer -- who issues me boarding pass. Leave satisfied that I will be on said flight.

6) Return to board said flight; find out have been given duplicate seating by previous gate agent who has mysteriously disappeared; bumped from flight.

7) Informed that checked bag is now taxiing out to active runway and preparing for an on-time departure to our nation's capital.

8) Carefully, calmly, and with only a slight bit of look akin to Jack Nicholson breaking through a door with an axe, told gate agent that, had they allowed me and my baggage to fly on different flights in the first place, this would not be a problem with which SHE had to deal. Consider mentioning that nice man in turban with full beard and a kidney problem had given me package to put in my bag for delivery to his cousin in Alexandria, only to realize that resulting deposition would make me late for any morning flight to Norfolk (which would still arrive too late).

9) Agent (wisely) books ticket to DCA for first flight out the following morning.

10) Return to friend's house; spend next two hours informing boss, team lead, client contact, client leader, client consultant, third-party intermediary, and quite possibly His Holiness the Pope, given required cc's to other parties whose names I don't recognize, that morning session needs to be canceled and made up later.

11) Fall into bed at 2 AM.

12) Wake up at 4 AM

13) Take taxi back to O'Hare through darkened streets. Wino's cardboard bed looks better and better and better.

14) Board full flight to DCA; leave half-hour late because waiting for connecting baggage from flight that had arrived two hours earlier.

15) Arrive at DCA, set off "gay conservative" alarm, whisked by airport security into separate van and driven at high speeds to rental area, just in time to avoid protestors arriving in response to alert from Dupont Circle and Adams-Morgan.

( Ed. Portion of previous statement is true)

16) Interminable drive to Norfolk, proving once and for all that I-95 looks pretty much the same no matter where in the Eastern Seaboard you are on it.

Of course, there are others; my six gate changes within twenty minutes for a flight departing Dallas/Fort Worth, my being trapped on the runway at D/FW for an hour at 2 PM in August in an aircraft with a malfunctioning air conditioning unit, my 1600-m dash at Seattle/Tacoma International after being sent to the wrong gate twice....the list is extensive.

With that, I must get ready for my flight to the Bay Area tomorrow. The word for the day is "carry-on".

The Wisdom of the Proletariat

Today's Dallas Morning News had a beautiful example of the common sense of the American voter in comparison to their elected officials.

In response to Senator Patrick Leahy's preening and prancing before the cameras this week on the issue of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, this reader writes:

I am in complete agreement with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. The detainees being held at Guantánamo must be released and relocated to a friendly place.

We all need to join forces and write our president and representatives and demand these men be relocated to the beautiful state of Vermont.

I'm sure the people of Vermont will put up as much money as it takes to build homes, schools and mosques for these people.

May I also suggest Cape Cod?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Today's Act of Hopeless Optimism

I received a postcard in the mail today that said the following:

North Dallas Thirty, you've been selected to enjoy our magazine for just $1 an issue, our absolute lowest price! And get a FREE DVD!

It was from Playboy.

I can only think of two things....either this is a last-ditch attempt by the religious right to convert gays, or somewhere, somehow, their mailing list got crossed with National Geographic.

I wonder what being solicited by them is worth for points on

Welcome Back, GayPatriot!

The major (and most heartwarming) story of the day has to be the return of GayPatriot himself to the GayPatriot blog. In a series of posts, he explains who he is and the whys of his departure and return.

I cannot express how good it is to have GP back. GPW has done a fine and valiant job of running GayPatriot, but as he eloquently puts it, they complement each other. The blogosphere is by far the better for both of them.

Welcome back, GayPatriot -- welcome HOME.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Name Your Poison, Pick Your Natural Disaster

Today, being as I wasn't in the hurry I usually am to get to work, I decided to forgo taking my daily Pop Tarts to the park with me when I took the NDT Mascot for his morning squirrel perimeter patrol and potty run, and instead chose to peruse the Dallas Morning News for a few minutes while I enjoyed breakfast.

Growing up in the Midwest and Southwest as I did, I've had more than enough exposure to tornadoes and the devastation they can cause, and as a result have developed a healthy respect for them. Kind of like going to seeing the dentist -- not exactly fear, but not something I'd do for kicks. You can thus imagine my surprise with today's front-page story about tourists paying thousands of dollars to ride along with storm-chasers -- for the sole purpose of seeing and experiencing a tornado.

Then again, as I thought about.....we do tend to get blase towards the natural phenomena with which we live on a daily basis. I daresay that most people on the East Coast wouldn't walk across the street to experience a hurricane or nor'easter, but I must admit it would be a secret thrill for me to see and experience what I've only gotten on TV or in the movies -- wind whipping the trees, howling, surf roiled and dark, rain sheeting by horizontally....that sort of thing. There is enormous grandeur in a Texas thunderstorm as it boils up from the horizon, the sky darkening, the hush of anticipation....then the crashes of thunder, the first big drops of rain, lightning shooting fireworks across the sky, the wind swirling, blowing everything in its path.....but more often than not, I'm thinking, "Damn, I just washed the car".

On the next page, though, was a story about natural phenomenon which I have not really experienced, but to which I will soon be very exposed -- earthquakes. It's hard to avoid the topic in a situation where, when friends ask you to describe the house to which you're moving, one of the big points is "it survived the 1906 quake". On my trips to Alaska, I've seen the effects of the Good Friday earthquake of 1964 -- entire towns demolished or submerged, tsunami scars hundreds of feet high on cliffs, you name it. The regular warnings that come out about "The Big One" -- especially for those of us who, prompted by the warnings concerning the New Madrid earthquake zone -- don't particularly help. At the time, I can't particularly imagine the grandeur that can be found in a devastated city -- even though I realize that San Francisco wouldn't be nearly as beautiful without the seismic forces that shaped the Bay, the Golden Gate, and the peninsula.

However, I will go out on a limb here and say that my first experience with an earthquake will be a lot like the first time I was kicked by a horse......the anticipation was worse than the actual event.

Monday, June 13, 2005

A Call to Action....Let's Make Wine out of Whine

For a wonderful kickoff to another week of work, we turn once again to our friends at the New York Christian Coalition, who celebrated Pride with us on Sunday with an announcement that gays should be wearing warning labels (via

"We put warning labels on cigarette packs because we know that smoking takes one to two years off the average life span, yet we 'celebrate' a lifestyle that we know spreads every kind of sexually transmitted disease and takes at least 20 years off the average life span according to the 2005 issue of the revered scientific journal Psychological Reports," said Rev. Bill Banuchi, executive director of the New York Christian Coalition.

As the article and John Aravosis aptly point out, calling Psychological Reports "revered" is an insult to psuedo-science, much less to psychology. Clearly, this statement came not just from out of left field, but from WAY over into foul territory, and is nothing but sheer illogical lunacy, as echoed Boi from Troy.

My answer? As my dad always puts it, the best way to handle an idiot is to give them a microphone. Since they want gays to wear labels, let's give them what they want..... our way.

I propose a call for action.....a call to come up with a series of warning labels for gay people that express truly what people need to be warned about when talking to us...and then put them on T-shirts that we can wear and other things as statements of the TRUE dangers of associating with gay people.

For example, my attempts:

WARNING: Exposure to gay people is known to cause broadening of thought and can result in the death of preconceived notions and dearly-held stereotypes.

WARNING: Exposure to gays while pregnant may result in your child growing up without prejudice or intolerance towards them.

WARNING: Exposure to gay people may cause addictions to their company, such as friendship and acceptance.

Please submit your ideas via the Comments section or, if you wish for them to remain private, via email at By submitting an idea, you are agreeing to cede all rights to said idea. In addition, if any of you are or know T-shirt makers (preferably gay-owned) who would be interested in doing and helping out, please let me know via email.

Any and all resulting proceeds, copyrights, or royalties accruing to North Dallas Thirty will be contributed on an unrestricted basis to The Point Foundation for its use in providing scholarships to glbt students.

Let's get to it!

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Think First, Act Later....PLEASE

I've noticed a disturbing trend of late among the religious right groups opposing gay rights....they're getting smarter, much smarter. What's making this trend more and more dangerous is the apparent trend among gay activists in response......they're getting dumber, MUCH dumber.

Case in point; the recent bill signing by Texas Governor Rick Perry of Texas's new parental notification law for abortion. As I blogged previously, this had all the earmarks of a brilliant Machiavellian setup, especially since the anti-gay marriage amendment didn't even HAVE to be signed, for Perry to both grab a large base of support and to get lumped together in the minds of the public abortionists with Democrats, gay protestors, the ACLU, the antireligious, and others.

Making matters worse, along came Washington Blade Executive Editor Chris Crain, who took the bait and fell right into the trap, claiming publicly that "abortion is essentially a gay-rights issue" as a reason for why gays should oppose parental notification, despite the fact that over three-quarters of Texans, regardless of their ethnic group, support it. In essence, not only was Chris making the strange comparison that the rights of gays are somehow being impaired by limits on something that gays almost by definition would never use (how many abortions do gay people have a year, anyway?), he was arguing that the 75% of Texans who think that their daughters should have to have the same level of consent for an abortion that they do to get their ears pierced or get a Tylenol from the school nurse are discriminating against gays.

I may not be a Beltway political consultant, but I'm pretty sure that opposing something that 75% of voters want for a spurious reason is not a good way to ensure political longevity.

Meanwhile, over at AmericaBLOG, John Aravosis is launching his latest missive against a letter sent to John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, complaining about the federation's stance on gay marriage and constitutional amendments state and Federal.

John's statement:

And, big surprise, it's just as packed full of lies as their now-failed boycott of Ford (the one that lasted, oh, like a week). They accuse the unions, just like they accused Ford, of supporting gay marriage simply because they oppose anti-gay hate. Amazing connection the fundamentalist Christian hate groups make, trying to tie anything pro-gay to an all-out endorsement and push for gay marriage.

As the letter notes, the AFL-CIO has an affiliate, Pride At Work, ostensibly devoted to workplace protections for glbts. However, when you go to their website, you notice on the side a big bold "MARRIAGE CENTER" link -- and when you click on it, you find a page encouraging people to "use the following model resolutions" to "demystify the issue of civil marriage to our labor counterparts" -- including the Model Civil Marriage Resolution that is titled, when you open the document, "Model Resolution to Support Civil Marriage
for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Individuals". And, if you need more can contact Jeremy Bishop at jbishop - at -

Let's see, page of organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO supporting bringing resolutions in support of gay marriage and saying that, if you have any questions, to contact this AFL-CIO employee -- but the AFL-CIO isn't supporting gay marriage at all, according to gay activists. Thanks, in the AFA et al.'s eyes, not only are we immoral perverts, we're lying idiots as well....and they have proof of the latter.

Furthermore, there's a reason these groups are making this move against the AFL-CIO now -- they're aware of the power struggles and divisions within the AFL-CIO over the organization's direction, primarily the claims that leaders like Sweeney are out of touch with union members' needs and concerns and are too focused on politics instead of growing unions. This is similar to their announcing a boycott of Ford right about the time Ford announced that its sales in the month of May were down 10.5%.

What it appears that these religious right groups have figured out is that it does no good to go after companies or groups that are doing well or are established brands, i.e. Disney. While many gay groups have crowed that the boycott of Ford "failed" because it was suspended after a week and didn't get a response from Ford Corporate, that ignores the immediate response the actions of the AFA got from the Ford dealers -- which, if one understands the structure of the auto industry, is where the real power in the company resides, because dealers are in essence the company's only customers (read Lee Iacocca's book, "Iacocca", for a great description of the gymnastics that car companies perform for dealers); they were not about to take the bullet for Ford Corporate, and I think there will be a reaction in a few months, especially if Ford's sales continue to decline (and dealer profits go down).

In the case of the AFL-CIO, the tactic is exactly the same -- the religious right groups are using the views of the members to undercut and force the leaders to comply. My opinion is that the vast majority of AFL-CIO affiliate members are not even aware of the resolution, much less Pride at Work's promotion of gay marriage, which is why the religious right groups are threatening to inform them of the fact -- and of union members' rights to withhold union dues in certain instances. As they point out, the vast majority of union members oppose gay marriage and support state constitutional amendments to ban it -- and for them to find out that the union to which they pay a considerable sum of their salary is campaigning for the opposite could have devastating consequences.

A very smart move indeed on their part -- and then John amplifies the problem with the mistake typical of the tunnel vision of a Beltway gay activist.

Please contact the AFL-CIO and thank them for their past support for civil rights for ALL Americans, and let them know that you stand with them and are here to support them in their battle against anti-civil rights hate groups.

Now we have gay activists sending public letters of thanks to AFL-CIO leadership for supporting things that a majority of their members oppose -- during a time when the AFL-CIO is threatening to tear apart because its members believe their leaders are out of touch with their views on the issues. The word "counterproductive" doesn't even begin to describe this. What John should be pushing people to do is to work on union MEMBERSHIP, not make it more obvious that the leadership is out of step with their members' views, but in true DC fashion, he ignores those icky voters who don't agree with him in favor of sucking up to leaders who will pull a Kerry the minute gay rights start costing them power.

The message here with both Crain and Aravosis is that, while action is good, one should always think before acting. While it was very tempting to protest Perry's appearance, it also lumped gay issues in with ones people are against. In Aravosis's case, while it's nice to send letters of support, when that support can and will be used to exacerbate another issue, forget the letters. In all cases, make sure you are appealing to the VOTERS and taking their views into consideration, not just pandering to out-of-touch leaders or protesting to be protesting.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Deja Vu All Over Again

Once again, John Aravosis goes after another Internet political consultancy firm -- and, just like last week, neglects to mention that he himself is an Internet political consultant who competes with these firms for business.

I can't help but wonder if this is the new "viral marketing" form -- post a blog or email alert that conceals your business identity, bash your competitors, get people to write nastygrams to organizations with which your competitor does business threatening to cut off contributions and business if they don't drop your competitor, and scoop up the business yourself. Apparently the opinions of the actual people involved as to the gay-friendliness of the company don't count either.

The fact that they scream bloody murder when the AFA and FRC do this makes their own use of blackmail and extortion all the more amusing.....the fact that they also do it to apparently drive business to themselves adds a piquant irony.

And Now, On a Lighter Note.....

.....on the way into work this morning, I was both pleasantly amused and entertained by the trio of sisters known as SHeDAISY and their new song, "Don't Worry 'Bout A Thing" ( click here to select and view the video). After all, how often do you get to hear songs in which the background vocals are, "Blah blah blah blah blah.....blah blah blah blah blah"?

Meanwhile, in the proud tradition of posting gratuitous pictures of decent-looking men....check out new country star Keith Anderson, a former competitive bodybuilder. Between him and ex-personal trainer Billy Currington, you could make for an entertaining evening -- although I'll still take Chris Cagle first.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A Fisk of Crain on Perry

While more often than not I tend to agree with Chris Crain, the Executive Editor of the Washington Blade and Editorial Director for Window Media, the nation's largest gay and lesbian newspaper publisher, in his blogpost from Monday concerning the aforementioned bill signing by Texas Governor Rick Perry, he makes several statements with which I have some real problems.

The event was held in the school's gymnasium, but the message was crystal clear: the state of Texas is enshrining into law the particular religious beliefs of evangelical Christians. The U.S. Constitution speaks to this issue, in the First Amendment, which provides that our government cannot establish any particular religion into law.

True, but it does not preclude establishing a moral view that happens to be common to several religions into law, including evangelical Christianity, Catholicism (thank you, John Kerry), messianic and conservative Judaism, and Islam. If Crain's argument were taken at face value, banning murder or crimes against property would be an "establishment of religion" because they're covered in the Ten Commandments, the Quran, and elsewhere.

The reason the Establishment Clause exists -- indeed, why it's CALLED the "Establishment" Clause -- is because our founders were familiar with the "established church" in the European sense, such as the Church of England -- a situation where one dominant religious denomination enjoyed legal and financial privileges denied to all others and in which membership was a prerequisite for full rights as a citizen (holding office, voting, etc.) The point was not to completely ban religious thought and philosophy from government, but to prevent the creation of a similar "Church of the United States".

Next up:

The reason the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas' sodomy law — and the reason that state supreme courts in Hawaii, Alaska, Vermont and Massachusetts have struck down laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples — is that these anti-gay measures are motivated by nothing more than moral disapproval of homosexuality. Perry's bill signing fills in the blanks — as if we needed them filled in — about the source of that moral disapproval.

OK so far. However, Chris creates a problem in the very next paragraph.

Religious faith groups, including Christian denominations, differ on the issue of gay marriage, and civil marriage equality would not require any church or synagogue to marry a gay couple. By voting to give legal effect to the religious beliefs of the majority, the Texas Legislature violated the First Amendment's establishment clause and the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection to gay Americans.

Chris makes the mistake of saying that the fact that religious groups differ on the issue of gay marriage means that Texas's action that mirrors the religious beliefs of the majority is a violation of the First Amendment. Again, the logic breaks apart -- since some religious faith groups, like the Church of Satan, sanction ritual murder, does that mean that laws against murder, since they mirror the religious beliefs of the majority, are a violation of the First Amendment?

Unfortunately for Chris's argument as well, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's concurring opinion (beginning on page 23) in the case of Lawrence v. Texas says thus concerning the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection:

That this law (ed. the Texas statute prohibiting sodomy) applied to private, consensual conduct is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause does not mean that other laws distinguishing between heterosexuals and homosexuals would similarly fail under rational basis review. Texas cannot assert any legitimate state interest here, such as national security or preserving the traditional institution of marriage. Unlike the moral disapproval of same-sex relations -- the asserted state interest in this case -- other reasons exist to promote the institution of marriage beyond mere moral disapproval of an excluded group.

This argument that the Equal Protection Clause does NOT cover same-sex marriage is strengthened by decisions made by Federal courts and military courts relative to Lawrence that state that only private, consensual conduct is protected. Anything else that can be construed to be even remotely public is not, such as polygamy, the selling of sex toys, heterosexual sodomy -- as well as, most obviously, gay adoption (by the Supremes themselves, no less) and -- surprise! -- same-sex marriage.

The message being sent is that states are perfectly within their rights to regulate public conduct related to sexuality, which would include gay marriage. While you might argue that the intent of the Texas statute is more to discriminate against gay people than it is to protect traditional marriage, you would have to prove that that was the only reason -- and the Supreme Court has already shown that a) it casts a jaundiced eye on "intent" relative to public conduct and b) believes there are legitimate reasons for states denying same-sex individuals and couples benefits.

In short, Chris, we need to stop sending mixed messages as a community. You can argue all you want about how states banning gay marriage is mean and evil and violates the Constitution, but you'd better not turn around and promote as pro-gay and gay supportive people who praise voters for banning gay marriage and state unequivocally that no state should have to recognize gay marriage if they don't want to do so. The fact that antigay state constitutional amendments are passing at a dizzying pace and by wide majorities should be more than enough proof that people are getting the latter message and not hearing the former.

Finally, though, Chris, I think this was your most howling error in the entire post.

Perry's decision to sign an anti-abortion measure at the Christian school along with the gay marriage ban is an important reminder of how abortion is essentially a gay rights issue.

Measures passed to restrict abortion rights are, at their core, motivated by the same conservative Christian religious beliefs as anti-gay measures. Perry made that clear when, signing the measure, he said, "We may be on the grounds of a Christian church, but we all believe in standing up for the unborn."

In fact, the parental consent measure was ostensibly designed to protect minors from making an important decision without their parents' input. Perry's willingness to speak to its true motivation — conservative Christian religious views about the beginning of life — should hasten the law's demise in the courts.

At this point, Chris, I respectfully ask you to shut up before you get the rest of us killed. The only connection between gay rights and abortion rights is that, without abortion rights groups' funding, NGLTF and HRC would be back to McDonald's in storefront offices instead of caviar in the Taj Mahal. Lifestyle financing does not a linkage make; in addition, when it apparently is not antigay, at least according to Joe Solmonese, for an abortion rights group to give money to a supporter of the FMA because she supports abortion, one wonders whether this linkage is more harmful than beneficial.

Furthermore, on a purely common-sense basis, as blogger Citizen Z points out, the previous law was sheer lunacy -- a minor could not get her ears pierced or get a nonprescription painkiller from a school nurse without parental consent, but she could have a major medical procedure without them being any the wiser. In addition, polls show that 81% of adult Texans support parental consent, including almost 80% of African-Americans and 76% of Hispanics. Brilliant tactical maneuver, Chris; let's link gay rights with something that an overwhelming majority of people across the board oppose -- which is why I think Perry let it be known that the amendment, which didn't need his signature, would be "discussed" at the event, thus ensuring that gay rights activists would show up without thinking and be linked with the abortionists.

Finally, Chris, this may come as a shock to you, but not all queers support abortion, myself included. I myself support both parental notification and bans on abortions except in the case of nonconsensual sex (rape and incest) or if the mother's life is in imminent physical danger. Furthermore, I find your insinuation that failure to support abortion rights means I don't support gay rights to be both incorrect and insulting.

This should make for some interesting responses.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Another Valid Question -- With a Different Answer

Another regular commentor here with whom I have a....more adversarial....relationship with is Ian S., who today brought up another point that definitely warrants further discussion out on the main board.

You keep blithering about Kerry but conveniently ignore the fact that Kerry has clearly stated that he supports civil unions with the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Nothing he has said regarding state initiatives has conflicted with that.

The first place to which I will point to refute that statement is to the opinion of the Massachusetts Supreme Court on Massachusetts Senate Bill 2175.

The question:

The undersigned Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court respectfully submit their answers to the question set forth in an order adopted by the Senate on December 11, 2003, and transmitted to the Justices on December 12, 2003. The order indicates that there is pending before the General Court a bill, Senate No. 2175, entitled "An Act relative to civil unions." A copy of the bill was transmitted with the order. As we describe more fully below, the bill adds G. L. c.207A to the General Laws, which provides for the establishment of "civil unions" for same-sex "spouses," provided the individuals meet certain qualifications described in the bill.

The order indicates that grave doubt exists as to the constitutionality of the bill if enacted into law and requests the opinions of the Justices on the following "important question of law":

"Does Senate, No. 2175, which prohibits same-sex couples from entering into marriage but allows them to form civil unions with all 'benefits, protections, rights and responsibilities' of marriage, comply with the equal protection and due process requirements of the Constitution of the Commonwealth and articles 1, 6, 7, 10, 12 and 16 of the Declaration of Rights?"

The answer of the Court:

We recognize that the pending bill palliates some of the financial and other concrete manifestations of the discrimination at issue in Goodridge (ed. the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage). But the question the court considered in Goodridge was not only whether it was proper to withhold tangible benefits from same-sex couples, but also whether it was constitutional to create a separate class of citizens by status discrimination, and withhold from that class the right to participate in the institution of civil marriage, along with its concomitant tangible and intangible protections, benefits, rights, and responsibilities. Maintaining a second-class citizen status for same-sex couples by excluding them from the institution of civil marriage is the constitutional infirmity at issue.

4. Conclusion. We are of the opinion that Senate No. 2175 violates the equal protection and due process requirements of the Constitution of the Commonwealth and the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. Further, the particular provisions that render the pending bill unconstitutional, § 2 and 3 of proposed G.L. c.207A, are not severable from the remainder. The bill maintains an unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples, and the bill's remaining provisions are too entwined with this purpose to stand independently. See Murphy v. Commissioner of the Dep't of Indus. Accs., 418 Mass. 165, 169 (1994).

The answer to the question is "No."

In short, the Massachusetts Supreme Court made it quite clear that, under the Massachusetts Constitution, "civil unions" cannot by definition carry the rights and responsibilities of marriage, and anything other than full marriage rights for same-sex couples is a violation of said document.

A little over three weeks later, John Kerry announced his public support to amend the Massachusetts Constitution to ban gay marriage and to specifically block its interpretation of civil unions being unconstitutional. Kerry had previously stated that his opposition to gay marriage was based on his Catholicism.

To me, this is really the crux of the problem with John Kerry. He had the opportunity to allow gays to keep true equality, and instead chose to support something that took it away from them because of his religious beliefs and amending the state constitution to consign gays to what he knew was a separate, inferior, and discriminatory status. As the Massachusetts Supreme Court wisely pointed out, "The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal."

When it came to Missouri, Kerry's initial response was as follows:

Sen. John Kerry said in an interview published yesterday that he would have voted for the gay-marriage ban passed overwhelmingly this week by Missouri voters.
The Democratic presidential nominee, who spent parts of two days stumping across the state, told The Kansas City Star the ballot measure was the same as one his home state of Massachusetts passed a few years ago. Kerry supported that measure.

When questioned by the Advocate a month later, Kerry at first reversed position, claiming that he "didn't know" that the amendment potentially banned civil unions and that he "would not have voted for that"; after the interview, his campaign released a statement in his name declining to say whether the actual effect of the amendment would have changed his position.

Personally, regarding this excuse, I fail to see how anyone could confuse the Missouri and Massachusetts amendments -- especially odd, given the fact that Kerry is a lawyer. What it sounds quite similar to is Kerry's alleged promise to Assemblyman Mark Leno that Kerry would support full Federal benefits for gay couples, which was later remanded to "studying the issue" and "commitment in principle" -- promise one thing when talking to the gay folk, take it back when talking to everyone else.

In short, if Kerry truly wanted full equality for gays, he could have kept his mouth shut. The fact that he didn't speaks volumes concerning both his attitude that gays are not equal to straights and his willingness to sacrifice gay issues for political expediency.

The question then becomes why groups gave him so much money instead of, like LCR, declining to endorse on principle and focusing resources towards truly gay-supportive candidates and the defeat of antigay initiatives.

Valid Question, Same Answer

One of the joys of the blogosphere is being able to meet people with whom, even though you have different political and ideological views, you can dialogue, learn from, and genuinely enjoy talking -- such as Christian Grantham, Pam of Pam's House Blend and Dunner of Dunner's Stunners.

Also included in this august group is regular commentor Pat, whom I first met over on GayPatriot and who has been kind enough to favor me with his critiques over here on North Dallas Thirty. He brought up an excellent point in his comment today that I thought deserved main-board mention and discussion.

In the meantime, I'm not going to be an apologist for people like Bush and Perry. I'm not saying that you are, but I am perplexed why it seems like you put Kerry in the same category as them when it comes to gay rights.

Back when I first started blogging, that was one of the questions that came up, and rightly so. In the interests of brevity, I will link to my original blogpost discussing the issue, rather than reprinting it, and use that as a springboard for discussion. In addition, I will point out that Kerry continues to support antigay stances (or at least stances now deemed antigay by "gay rights" groups in 2005, in contrast to 2004), despite the fact that he is not in the middle of a national campaign.

Discuss away.

The New Democratic Apology....Federalism

My post below concerning Governor Rick Perry's actions has stimulated some interesting debate in the Comments, particularly related to why Democrats are suddenly opposed to writing discrimination against gays into state constitutions based on religious objections after their support of people who supported it as gay-supportive and pro-gay in 2004.

The most interesting new excuse for why writing discrimination into state constitutions is legitimate and not antigay is invoking federalism -- as one commentor does:

You say: "Meanwhile, if you can tell me how support of antigay state constitutional amendments fits into the "full inclusion" and "equality" that the Democratic Party platform supposedly promises gays it supports, I'd be most interested in hearing it." Hey Republican, ever heard of "federalism?" Seems you guys forget the concept that is supposedly a core Republican belief when it suits you.

As we all know, the concept of federalism is that of power being divided between a central political authority and its constituent units. In the United States, because of our limited Federal constitution, all powers not specifically outlined within the Constitution itself belong to the states. When used in this context, it would mean that the power to legislate legal rights based on sexual orientation, specifically in relation to marriage, resides with the states and not with the Federal government.

The reason that this appears to be being invoked is as a means of explaining why John Kerry's support of state constitutional amendments limiting or stripping gay rights on the basis of religion is not antigay and is not a violation of the "full inclusion" and "equality" promised by the Democratic Party platform. Apparently, the logic is that the right to regulate marriage has and should always reside with the states; the corollary then would be that each state has the right to treat same-sex relationships as they see fit, including whether or not they recognize those existing in other states. Thus, by this understanding, Kerry's support of the Missouri amendment and proposed Massachusetts amendment, both of which would deny marriage and its rights and benefits to gays, is not antigay or discriminatory; it is simply him supporting the exercise of the right of the state to regulate marriage.

The problem here is that these "federalists" do two things that undercut their argument and purported belief in federalism. First off, they go ballistic when states like Texas try to exercise their right to regulate marriage in exactly the same fashion as Missouri and Massachusetts, calling it and the supporters of it discriminatory and antigay -- when the same was not said of supporters of the Massachusetts and Missouri amendments, like John Kerry.

Second off, and more fatally, they point to the Federal Constitution as a basis for their argument that these amendments are discriminatory and antigay -- despite their having said that, because of "federalism", the right to regulate marriage in all its forms belongs to the states, NOT to the Federal government, and is thus not covered by the Federal Constitution.

I would then say that the bluff of these "federalists" needs to be called. Would they object to a Federal constitutional amendment that simply codifies what they allegedly believe -- that no state is required to grant gays marriage rights or recognize legal relationships between same-sex couples created by another state?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

What's Up With Rick Perry?

There's been a considerable bit of traffic in the gay blogosphere as of late concerning the actions (or antics) of Texas Governor Rick Perry. First was his signing of Texas's new parental notification law for abortions on Sunday in the gym of a private religious school in Fort Worth; today it was the news as reported at dailyKos that Perry said the following when asked about the rights of gay veterans:

"Texans made a decision about marriage and if there's a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that's a better place for them to live."

This is quite a change for the man who on April 29th was complaining about how the gay issue could unnecessarily derail the CPS bill and saying that, if he wasn't quite in favor of gay foster parents, they were definitely better than kids being abused (thanks, I think). What brought on this latest orgy of gaybashing?

Here's your catalyst.

AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry's job approval rating, after rebounding earlier this year, slipped to 45 percent in a new poll released Wednesday.

Perry's job approval hit 51 percent earlier this year, his highest showing in three years of polling.

The latest poll of 1,000 adult Texans was conducted between April 14 and May 4. It has a margin of error of three percentage points.

The governor also had one of the highest negative ratings — 35 percent — of state officials in the poll.

In addition to that spectacularly-dismal showing, here's the OTHER overriding reason -- actually, BOTH reasons.

(US Senator Kay Bailey) Hutchison remained the most popular Texas politician with a 67 percent job approval rating that includes strong support across political lines.

Among Republicans polled, 78 percent approve of Hutchison's job performance compared with 63 percent for Perry.

More than half of Democrats, 55 percent, said Hutchison is doing a good job, as did 65 percent of independents.

Perry's other potential challenger, Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, received a 51 percent approval rating.

Her disapproval rating was only 12 percent, but 37 percent didn't know enough to offer an opinion. Voters might not be aware that Strayhorn, who took a new married name two years ago, was formerly known as Carole Keeton Rylander.

In short, Rick Perry realized that, as things stood, the only thing would keep him in the Governor's Mansion for a second elected term would be if Hutchinson and Strayhorn didn't want it.

So what did he do? Turn to the Dark Side, of course.

A little over two weeks ago, Perry attended a two-day closed-door meeting with what organizers described as an "alliance of conservative evangelical Christians" in which he described himself as an "ally" on abortion, prayer in schools, and gay marriage. The avowed purpose of this group is to register 300,000 new "values voters" and 1,000 "Patriot Pastors".

To put it bluntly, this is a sizeable and influential voting bloc by any measure, especially in a state political race, and one that could certainly be the tipping point in the Republican gubernatorial primary -- most likely Perry's motivation for allying with them. On a more sinister note, given the total turnout of 1.47 million voters in the 2003 special Constitutional election, if one assumes that there is one existing "values voter" for each of the "new" 300,000 by November 2005, a total of 600,000, that would represent nearly half of the people voting -- and I guarantee you it won't be "No" on the state's new antigay constitutional amendment.

Moreover, at least in these initial stages, Perry, a man famous for his political tin ear, was using some maneuvers positively Machiavellian in their effectiveness and brilliance. The bill signing at Calvary Christian had several of these:

-- The school and church is located in Fort Worth -- Kay Bailey Hutchinson's political center.

-- Its proximity to Dallas ensured that Michael Piazza, one of the right-wing's favorite examples of gay spirituality, would be there ironically protesting this "misuse of church property".

-- Even though the antigay state constitutional amendment did not need to be signed by the governor, Perry made sure it would be included in the program by mentioning that it would be "discussed" -- thus ensuring that gay activists and the Tarrant County Democratic Party were outside protesting in apparent solidarity with abortionists, the ACLU, and anti-religionists -- all of whom are about as popular in Texas as are fire ants.

-- All of the aforementioned being present made a wonderful photo-op and proof statement for the argument that "liberals" are protesting the involvement of Christians in government because of their religion.

Fortunately, Mr. Perry, you showed once again your ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of political victory with your aforementioned idiotic statement.

First off, Texans have NOT yet "made a decision" -- the election isn't until November 8th, Rick.

Second, while your statement is technically true -- if gay marriage is important to you, there ARE better states to live in than Texas -- your amendment doesn't just ban gay marriage. It specifically precludes the state or its subdivisions from granting ANY form of legal recognition or rights to same-sex couples, neatly cutting out civil unions -- a position not likely to sit well with folks who oppose gay marriage on religious or other grounds, but do not wish to completely deny same-sex couples legal benefits. Your arrogant "my way or the highway" remark is going to make that even worse.

Make no mistake -- this is going to be a hard fight. However, I think it's a winnable fight -- especially as we start poaching some "morals voters" turned off by their leaders' nasty rhetoric towards their neighbors, coworkers, and friends.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Pot Calls Kettle Chartreuse

It's been a while since I got such a good laugh out of John Aravosis, but his diatribe of the day against Internet consulting firm Convio for daring to take a contract with the Alliance for Marriage.

Of course, I'm sure that John's concern and his threats that any lefty non-profit that dares to work with Convio again will be "savaged" has everything to do with gay rights and nothing to do with the fact that he owns a rival Internet consulting practice that could potentially benefit from Convio losing business -- a fact which is mentioned nowhere on Americablog, and certainly not as a disclaimer in his story.

A note to Convio -- I've already blogged that it is possible to effectively inoculate yourself from the criticisms of the gay left and Aravosis; you merely have to do as did the Kerry campaign and and hire them.

Update: The fun is already beginning as the vultures start to circle, trying to take advantage of and pick at Convio's carcass on the comment thread.

First is "Frank", who advocates a switch to GetActive instead of Convio. I wonder how he feels about GetActive's providing services to the Coalition for Affordable and Reliable Energy, which applauds the Bush administration and the 2005 Clean Skies Act?

Next up is Ruby Sinreich, who apparently intends to use her position as Online Organizing Manager for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America to push people away from Convio. I wonder if she's planning to tell her bosses first, and how they feel about her doing it -- or Planned Parenthood's connection to Convio?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Some Texas Twisting

One of the comments posted while I was out concerning the Texas antigay constitutional amendment brought up some very insightful points that I wanted to discuss on the main board.

Did the Texas GOP make a tremendous mistake with the actual wording of the "Marriage" Amendment?

The full language of the amendment is as follows:

Sec. 32. (a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.
(b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

Ok Part (a) is pretty clear. It defines what marriage is in Texas.

Part (b) is Really interesting. It doesn't limit its' language to same sex couples. If you read it carefully.."may not create of recognize any legal status identical .. to marriage". Does that invalidate the state recognizing ANY BENEFITS OR RIGHTS FOR ALL (GAY AND STRAIGHT) MARRIAGES)?

It seems to me that Part (b) is stating how the state shall assign rights and responsibilities from the marriages defined in Part (a). I take this amendment to mean 'Marriage is for straights only, but the state can't recognize any status for marriage anyway'

Obviously, they could go for the legislative intent ruling to get around this. But wouldn't that get them into a serious Romer issue?

Will this remove common law marriage from the books?

Does this prohibit health and pension benefits to STRAIGHT spouses of state workers?

Does it have implications for community property provisions in Texas law?

Is my reading of the Amendment Crazy?

First off, the reading of the amendment is not in the least bit crazy. On first blush, the vast majority of the state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage look roughly the same, and with the known issues caused by Michigan's and Ohio's amendments, we SHOULD be asking questions about the wording of these monstrosities.

Tom's reading of Part (a) of the amendment is spot-on -- this is the section that defines marriage as being only the union of one man and one woman. Part (b), in my opinion, simply defines that the state itself or its political subdivisions (i.e. cities, counties) may not create or recognize a LEGAL status identical or similar to marriage. This is akin to saying that Dallas County may not set up a domestic partner registry as has Cook County, Illinois; in addition, it precludes a judge from ruling that, for instance, a gay marriage made in Massachusetts must be recognized in Texas. This in and of itself also prohibits civil unions, which is the single biggest thing I found objectionable (other than the fact that it came up at all) about the amendment.

Part (b), in my opinion, does not end common-law marriage, simply because, under Texas law, common-law marriage is not a different TYPE of marriage -- it is a different way of entering INTO marriage. You can think of it in this fashion -- in Texas, you can be married instantly by procuring a license and having the civil ceremony; you can skip those and still be married, but you have to play house for at least two years. The restrictions (age, gender, blood relations, etc.) are the same for common-law as they are for regular; therefore, the two really are the same thing.

In terms of benefits, my judgment is that the Attorney General of Texas is correct and that the amendment as written would not abrogate them, even for state employees. The reason is that the offering of benefits is not dependent on (nor does it create) a legal status -- only the tax and transfer advantages of the benefits are. For instance, my company's definition of "domestic partner" does not reference any state law -- only a specific set of circumstances. It is not a legal status -- in the eyes of the law and the IRS, I remain single, and I am taxed on the additional benefit monies the company gives me for my domestic partner as imputed income. Furthermore, in an interesting twist, since discrimination in benefits on the basis of sexual orientation is not forbidden under Federal law, companies are perfectly free to offer benefits to same-sex unmarried partners that they do not offer to opposite-sex unmarried partners.

As for laws related to property, I do foresee there being some issues with the interpretation of Section 2, which states that certain rights secured by contract do not create a legal status identical or similar to marriage; however, since we already allow contracts that supersede normal laws of community property (can you say "pre-nup"?), it shouldn't be a big deal.

Again, as I said before, defeating this will be a bitch. On the one hand, I suppose we should be happy that consideration was given to protecting domestic partner benefits and allowing gays to enter into contractual forms that approximate marriage benefits; on the other, there is no way in hell that I will ever tolerate or legitimize this level of discrimination being written into state law.