Yesterday the Obama administration brought LGBT rights to the top of its foreign-policy agenda, announcing it would tie the receipt of foreign aid to a country’s treatment of gay and lesbian citizens. “Gay rights are human rights,” Hillary Clinton said in a rousing speech to the United Nations in Geneva. “It is violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave.” As one would expect, the GOP quickly jumped on the opportunity.
Over the past five years we've seen a surge of concern—as evidenced by legislation in 46 states—about bullying. That's heartening. There's no question that serious bullying hurts children and adults alike, especially Lord of the Flies-type bullying that goes beyond the usual teen drama and can destroy a child.
Some bullying, especially what happened to many now-adult gay men when they were young (cf: the masculinity patrol), includes severe physical harm. In the 1990s, Lambda Legal won a landmark lawsuit on behalf of Jamie Nabozny, whose experience in a Wisconsin school included four years of this:
Longtime gay community reporter Rex Wockner passes along this story of a Wisconsin teacher who has taken the "gay" out of Deck the Halls. You can't really blame her, what with "gay" being a common grade school slur, and all:
The music teacher at Cherry Knoll removed the word "gay" from the song Deck the Halls because the children kept giggling. Instead students were taught to sing "don we now our bright apparel".
I have a tendency to hurrah, regularly, about how vastly American attitudes toward lesbians and gay men have improved. (Attitudes toward transgendered folks are much further behind, as I will discuss here soon, as that column of the movement started later and includes fewer people.)
But whenever I write about how amazing it is that I never worry that someone will call me a f***ing dyke on the street, or that TheNew York Times not only uses "gay" instead of "homosexual" but actually profiles same-sex couples in the wedding section, I am reminded that it's not this way everywhere.
At this point, I think it’s fair to say that there is nothing intentional in the fact that Siri, Apple’s AI assistant for the iPhone 4S, has a hard time providing information for abortion clinics, birth control, and other reproductive health services. As both Amanda Marcotte and Jill Filipovic have pointed out, Apple relies on external databases for Siri, which often offer faulty or inconclusive information for reproductive health services.
Last Sunday, I got silly-happy when I came across the Vows column in the Times' Style section. (For those who don't know, every week NYT highlights one couple's wedding with a little feature story and pictures, among the wedding listings.) Usually I simply scan that section briefly, checking up on how many same-sex couples appear, almost by habit. Since the NYT started allowing same-sex announcements in its wedding section in September 2002, a few prominent couples have crashed that Vows feature.
Ginger White's apparently painful confession of having had a 13-year on-again, off-again affair with Herman Cain seems to have dealt the final blow to his tottering political campaign. I've heard conversations, since, in which political insiders are annoyed about that—believing that adultery should never be what brings a public person down.
Even if your parents didn't like who you dated, they didn't send him to Siberia. And while they may haunt you in various ways after their deaths, that haunting can never weigh on you as much as Stalin's overhanging ghost. Do read this sad obituary of someone who, because of her father, could never find a place in life:
“Wherever I go,” she said, “here, or Switzerland, or India, or wherever. Australia. Some island. I will always be a political prisoner of my father’s name.”
Yes, the sins of the fathers are indeed visited upon the children, often in very peculiar ways.
The future is not looking bright for Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) in the United States. The pro league has dropped down to just five teams with October's disqualification of Florida's bungled magicJack franchise (the old Washington Freedom of the WPS, and WUSA, its predecessor league). At the moment, U.S. Soccer, the sport's governing body in the U.S., is dragging its heels in granting the waiver WPS needs to operate a Division 1 league with fewer than eight teams.
The idea that Massachusetts could lose Barney Frank in our congressional delegation never crossed my mind before yesterday, but I'm told that he's been signalling he's ready to go for a couple of years now. The New York Times' Abby Goodnough had a nice item about his departure announcement, which includes a great kicker about his famous combativeness with reporters and, well, everyone:
Mr. Frank’s famous petulance was on display at times on Monday; he dismissed what he called a “gotcha” question from a reporter about his personal investments and, upon learning she worked for Fox News, said, “Quelle surprise.”
Rex Wockner, longtime gay reporter, says this is the best marriage equality TV spot he has ever seen. The LGBT newsweekly The Advocate agrees. I haven't seen as many as they have, but it's pretty great. My only thought: it could be even better if there's another one just like it, in which the principal figure is a woman.
Around this time last year, the Senate was setting in to tackle various pieces legislation it put off over the course of the year and capitalize on the remaining time before the House majority switched parties in January. Repealing "don't ask, don't tell"—the '90s-era provision that allowed LGBT soldiers to serve in the military so long as they did not reveal their sexual identity—was near the top of the list for Democrats. Rather than immediately repealing the measure after the 2008 election on the grounds that the rule clearly violated civil liberties, Democrats did their best to appease the regulation's proponents and commissioned an impact study, which concluded that there would be no negative impact on military readiness or morale if the law were overturned.