Earlier this week, the Supreme Court looked into the question of who counts as a “supervisor” for the purpose of employment law. If you’re not an employment-law watcher, it sounds like the legal equivalent of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. But the answer is going to have real-life consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Let me illustrate.
In case you missed it, Team Marriage Equality just won five different statewide votes (I’m counting the Iowa race, where NOM failed in its attempt to recall one of the Supreme Court justices who voted for equal marriage). Okay, so maybe you heard. Everyone and her brother has been reporting on the ballot breakthrough, including me in my most giddily Tiggerish incarnation.
As I do every morning, I just rode my bike around the gorgeous city reservoir a block from my house, with my little Toto-like terrier running joyously alongside me—honestly, you should see how he bounds through the grass. I wave at the regular walkers and dogwalkers, even if we don’t know each others’ names. Today, Thanksgiving, Fresh Pond was overrun by visitors, out to burn off some calories and enjoy the brilliant blue New England day before they sit down with families of blood or of choice to eat, argue, joke, pray, or whatever their particular configuration might consider appropriate for the day. Since this is Cambridge, the colors were mostly but not only white, from deep WASP to darker brown: prep school blonds; ruddy Irish; argumentative Israelis; Pakistanis or Indians; Chinese; a very sweet and quiet Tibetan refugee couple who run a local restaurant and whose tiny Tibetan terrier swaggers like he owns the world; an extremely tall and fit couple speaking French; an astounding athletic young white couple with their bounding Great Dane puppy; a transracial (white/African-American) family from up the street whose boy goes to the same school as mine; and myriad Cambridge immigrants, nerds from other parts of the country who immigrated to live around others who think far too much for our own good. Of course, many sullen twenty-somethings walked around staring at the ground, looking as if they dreaded the conversations at the coming feast. But for the most part, a sense of pleasure filled the air as leaves drifting across the path, dogs happily sniffed around, and the sun shone on us all alike.
So there’s a second lawsuit against Kevin Clash, formerly the voice of Elmo, alleging that he had sex with an underage teenager. As a result, Clash has resigned from Sesame Street, according to the New York Post, which explains:
Clash’s sudden downfall came hours after published reports emerged that a man in his mid-30s filed a lawsuit against Clash, accusing the beloved puppeteer of having underaged sex with him when he was just 15.
So now we know they really mean it: They’d rather see a woman die than have an abortion.
You may have heard this story. Thirty-one-year-old Savita Halappanavar, who was visiting Ireland from India, was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to University Hospital Galway with back pain. They found out that she was miscarrying. According to the Irish Times, after spending a day in severe pain, Halappanavar started begging to have delivery induced, since there was no way the fetus could survive. She was refused, because the fetus still had a heartbeat. Here’s how the Irish Times reports on what happened next:
For The Advocate, I conducted an exit interview with Barney Frank, the first voluntarily out LGBT member of Congress. I needn't tell Prospect readers that Frank has had an incredibly distinguished career as a legislator on behalf of the downtrodden, progressive attack dog, gay advocate, and master of the withering soundbite. Before I went, I told my wife that my goal was to be told a particular question was "stupid" fewer than three times. In fact, I didn't hear that once. Do we need any more evidence that imminent retirement has mellowed the man?
Earlier this week, I said that I just don’t care about General David Petraeus’s affair. I’ve since heard political writers explaining that the affair itself may be immaterial; what matters was that Petraeus was compromising intelligence, granting line-crossing levels of access to someone unknown to the CIA. That may be so. But no matter how giddily silly the whole thing has become—what with the threatened good friend and the shirtless anti-Obama FBI agent (why are men “shirtless” and not “topless”?)—I don’t care about the affair itself: consensual adults, and all that.
On Friday, Maggie Gallagher and I had a conversation on Blogginheads in which we continued our attempt to, as she puts it so brilliantly, “achieve disagreement” about whether it is good or bad to gender-neutralize marriage’s entrance rules—i.e., to allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Maggie, as you may know, is one of the chief opponents of same-sex marriage, and has made arguing against our marriages a large part of her career. As you also know, just three days before we spoke, the pro-marriage equality side had won four different state referenda by about 52-48.
The Petraeus affair would be ever so boring if it didn’t involve the resignation of the head of the CIA, the most celebrated general in recent history, the reputed inventor of modern warcraft, the man who got us out of Iraq, the backer of drones—need I go on?
I know people are shocked, shocked, but—maybe because national security isn’t my beat—I’m more shocked that anyone is shocked. So an extremely important (and self-important) long-married man falls into bed with a woman who is writing his biography. Ho hum! It can’t be easier to imagine.
Last night, as I sat in Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's campaign ballroom taking notes on her win, I turned to Twitter and was stunned to discover that Americans have moved further and faster on marriage equality than I had dared to dream. Maine and Maryland voted to let same-sex couples marry; Washington state is poised to do the same; and voters in Minnesota defeated a measure that would have amended the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Maine voted in favor of equality 54 percent to 46 percent, in the first voter-initiated referendum to do so. Maryland passed marriage equality 52 percent to 48 percent—and did so the first time it went to the ballot. In Washington, with 50 percent of the votes recorded, marriage equality was ahead 52 percent to 48 percent. (That last one will take a week to before we get final results; Washington votes entirely by mail, and some of those ballots won’t even be received for days.)
This is the tenth in the Prospect's series on the 174 measures on state ballots this year.
Marriage equality is up for vote in four states. In three states, voters have a chance to affirmatively say yes to allowing their state to marry same-sex couples; in the fourth, voters can add a “one man-one woman” marriage clause to the state’s constitution. As we all know, support for LGBT issues in general, and marriage equality in particular, has been getting stronger every year, as more of us talk to our families and friends, explaining that love and devotion are the same whether you love a boy or a girl. Will this be the year that, at long last, we win at least one marriage vote at the polls?
As I’ve been writing here, marriage is on the ballot in four states on Tuesday: Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota. The upbeat news from the first three states is that those voters have a chance to say yes to letting same-sex couples get married. In each of those, the ballot question is some variant of this sentence: Should [our state] issue civil marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples, while preserving religious freedom and protecting clergy from having to perform such marriages if doing so violates their tenets?
In each of those, the campaigns are positive: citizens get to vote yes to allowing lesbians and gay men promise to care for each other lifelong, in ways recognized by the state. I’m not saying we’re going to win all of those fights; I’m hoping for one or two this year, and another two or more in the next election cycle. But those at least are positive campaigns, opportunities for voters to say yes.
This year, in three states, citizens will have a chance to vote on marriage equality. A “yes” vote in any of the three—Maine, Maryland, and Washington—will be a vote to allow the state to issue civil marriage licenses to same-sex pairs.
Last spring, I wrote for The Nation on the Elizabeth Warren campaign for U.S. Senate. At the time, I would've bet against her winning. This month, I checked in to see how the campaign is doing—and came away, to my surprise, believing she may very well eke out a victory over Brown. She's got three things going for her: a well-organized ground campaign that is deploying a flood of volunteers effectively and in coordination with the local, state, and national Democrats; her calm and personable performance in the debates; and the fact that many Massachusetts voters who might otherwise have ignored the Senate race are enthusiastic about reelecting President Obama.
I regularly get all giddy and Tiggerish about how far lesbians and gay man have come from the bad old days of, say, the late 1970s when I came out. Back then, most of the mainstream didn’t quite notice we were human. I do remember the moment I first realized that I wanted to kiss a girl, and my stomach fell out of me with fear: I didn’t want to be one of them. It’s hard to convey to you all how different things are and how far we’ve come.
I’ve been thinking about this because, on her Bloggingheads show last week, Sarah Posner asked me whether, ten years ago, I would have imagined we’d be as far along as we are on marriage. Ten years ago, yes. In 2002, it was pretty clear what path we were on. But in the 1970s, marriage was simply beyond conceivable.
E.J. Graff writes on social-justice and human-rights issues, particularly discrimination and violence against women and children; marriage and family policy; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lives. She is a resident scholar at the Brandeis Women's Studies Research Center and the author of What Is Marriage For? The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution (Beacon Press, 1999, 2004).