Gender & Sexuality

In Prop. 8 Ruling, a Liberal Lion Coos

Stephen Reinhardt, a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, has been called almost everything in the book. Conservatives slaver at the mention of his name; even liberals sometimes criticize his audacity. The Onion once ran a deadpan story reporting that he had “ruled the private celebration of Christmas unconstitutional ... ‘[i]n accordance with my activist agenda to secularize the nation.’”

Fight to Be Ordinary

AP Photo/Jim Rogash

Recently, someone asked me what it felt like to be married in Massachusetts. After all, our state has had marriage equality longer than any other in the nation, since May 17, 2004 (which, not coincidentally, is the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education). How does the controversy manifest these days? He was clearly surprised by my answer. And because the issue is current, I thought I'd try to explain what it feels like to you, too.

Not Just Marriage: The Other Fights for Gay and Trans Rights


It's already clear that gay marriage will be, once again, a major issue this year. Today, in a major victory for gay marriage advocates, a panel of federal judges ruled California's gay marriage ban is constitutional. Last week, the Washington state Senate approved a bill recognizing same-sex marriage, paving the way for gay marriage to become law. 

But the fight for same-sex marriage is only a piece of a larger civil rights struggle. And with all eyes focused on the issue of matrimony, it's easy to miss some of the other battlegrounds.

Komen Coverage Makes Ross Douthat Sad

The columnist's assertions of media bias during the Komen controversy rest on shaky ground.

As you might expect, Ross Douthat is unhappy about the backlash against the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation's decision to defund Planned Parenthood. His argument rests upon assertions of media bias that are shaky since, as Sarah Kilff notes, it's likely that media bias wouldn't have been a factor in Komen coverage precisely because of the political leanings of the average journalist.

Planned Parenthood Wins the Komen Showdown

AP Photo

Remember last week's Komen kerfuffle? (OK, it was more than a kerfuffle, but I love that word.) Katha Pollitt, among others, noticed that the breast-cancer-awareness group's apology for dropping Planned Parenthood from its future grantees was at best ambiguous. She too sees this as a clear win for Planned Parenthood:

Has Komen Reversed Course?

Here's the statement that Komen for the Cure has released explaining its new position. I've bolded some parts:

We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives.

The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.

Contraception, Co-Pays, and the Church

The Obama administration took some hits last week after it announced that employers with religious affiliations would not be exempt from the Affordable Care Act's mandate to cover preventive services without a co-pay—including contraception. At The Washington Post, E.J. Dionne* was quite peeved at the administration's insensitivity to the Catholic Church. Yesterday, the White House set up a news media conference call with senior administration officials to go over the decision's basic talking points.

Shattering the Susan G. Komen Pinkwashing

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

By now you know that, two days ago, the anti-breast-cancer behemoth Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced that it would no longer fund some Planned Parenthood affiliate's breast-cancer screenings: 

Planned Parenthood said the Komen grants totaled roughly $680,000 last year and $580,000 the year before, going to 19 of its affiliates for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services. According to Planned Parenthood, its health centers performed more than 4 million breast exams over the past five years, including nearly 170,000 as a result of Komen grants.

Stop the Damsel in Distress Act

Parks and Recreation's once-funny and subversive lead character turns into an anti-feminist cliché.

AP Images/Chris Haston

If you’re looking to get into the pants of a feminist, wonkish liberal, make sure to work Parks and Recreation into your sweet nothings. The hit NBC show's main character, Leslie Knope—a hyper-competent assistant parks director played by Saturday Night Live-alumna Amy Poehler—is one of those rare female comic characters who is allowed dignity along with competence. The sitcom is a love letter to the hard-working government bureaucrats who keep our streets clean and our communities safe only to find their work repeatedly bashed by pandering Republicans looking to score points against so-called big government.

Komen Foundation Races for the Cuts

The breast-cancer awareness group caves to anti-choice groups and pulls its funds from Planned Parenthood.

AP Photo/Ricardo Thomas

Since its founding in 1982, the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure has developed a massive network of breast cancer survivors and advocates, made its Race for the Cure ubiquitous, and has grown enough to call itself “the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.” Over the years, the group has committed at least $1.2 billion to breast cancer research, advocacy, and services. At the same time, Planned Parenthood, has become one of the largest providers of breast cancer screenings in the nation, particularly for low-income women and women without insurance. In the past five years, more than four million breast exams were performed in Planned Parenthood clinics, along with more than 70,000 mammogram referrals.

Balancing Faith and Contraceptives

Criticisms of President Obama's new birth control policy skip over the benefits for women's health.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne argues against the Obama administration's laudable decision to require employer-provided health-insurance packages to cover contraception. The new rule, according to Dionne, is a "breach of faith" that the "administration should have done more to balance the competing liberty interests here." Dionne's argument is, however, extremely unconvincing.

Cynthia Nixon Clears It All Up

Poor Cynthia Nixon! I can only imagine what kind of re-education camp she's been sent to since a week and a half ago, when she declared that she chooses to be gay. Yesterday, she issued a clarifying statement saying that:

to the extent that anyone wishes to interpret my words in a strictly legal context I would like to clarify:

While I don't often use the word, the technically precise term for my orientation is bisexual. I believe bisexuality is not a choice, it is a fact. What I have 'chosen' is to be in a gay relationship.

Frank Bruni on Whether We're "Born This Way"

Over the weekend, Frank Bruni at The New York Times weighed in on the internal LGBT community scuffle that Cynthia Nixon set off last week. Why are people gay? Nature, nurture, culture, choice, or some fluid combination thereof? I laid out my point of view here last week: Given that researchers have found women's sexuality to be more fluid than men's and that sexuality is defined and organized differently in different times and places, I wondered whether, in our time, men's appears more fixed because they face the fierce cultural pressure of the masculinity patrol

Gay Marriage Moving Forward Around the Country

It's been a good week for gay-rights advocates. Washington state gained the crucial 25th vote needed to pass same-sex marriage. The news prompted headlines around the country, but it was hardly the only place where such legislation moved forward.