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    Ann Rostow: Am I a Bad Person?

    By Ann Rostow–

    Am I a Bad Person?

    Readers, I have to ask myself a serious question. 

    I have to face myself in the mirror and ask if in some way I am enjoying the political chaos that erupts each week. Each morning I check the news on my phone, feeling a small sense of disappointment when I see that nothing new has happened in the world of Trump. Oh, an earthquake, a scandal in some far-flung country, the Nobel prize for literature will be delayed or skipped, it’s raining bullets in Gaza. Who cares? I want to see a blunder, an investigative report, an unexpected legal twist. The whole Rusher Thing with Trump and Rusher was interesting enough. Throw in Stormy and Michael and it’s all starting to thrill me. Which is not good. Not patriotic. Not right.

    This is not a Netflix binge series; it is real. It is history. We are being damaged. You know how people talk about a generation leaving the world a better place? I have never really thought about it, but I am witnessing my personal (baby boom) generation undermining decades of hard fought democratic progress. Just a few years ago, we elected one of the most brilliant and inspiring presidents in our history and now we find ourselves here? How did this happen? What the hell, Americans?! And what kind of person am I for my sick fascination? 

    (Do you think we can blame Trump for GenX?)

    I see, from the most cursory glances, that Trumpians have initiated yet another religious freedom policy, that the EPA has sidelined a report that sheds light on industrial water pollution affecting millions of Americans, that one of the many unqualified 20-something bro-types that skulk around the executive branch has been spending his time illegally spying on his fellow government employees, trying to catch them leaking to the press. 

    Just imagine if I took a closer look.

    Fired for Fish Photo

    Meanwhile, what’s been going on in the exciting world of GLBT news, you might ask? (I hear you!)

    Well, did you read, for example, about Stacy Bailey, the elementary school art teacher near Dallas, who basically lost her job after she showed her class a number of pictures, including one of herself and her future wife dressed as cartoon characters from Finding Nemo

    A parent complained about the six-year veteran, who was introducing herself to her class last August with a power point presentation. The very mention of a “future wife” (they have since married) was considered an age-inappropriate discussion of sexual orientation, and according to The New York Times, the complaining parent managed to convince others to join the protest. In October, Bailey was asked to resign, but refused. Supportive parents came to her rescue, and she was reinstated in April before being transferred to a high school against her will. She is now suing the Manchester Independent School District for sexual orientation discrimination in federal court.

    Some of you with your hands waving in the air are going to point out that sexual orientation discrimination is not a violation of any federal law. Then again, as we’ve discussed in these pages on many occasions, courts are starting to recognize that gay bias is a form of sex discrimination. And sex discrimination is indeed a violation of federal law—many federal laws, in fact. 

    Oh, and speaking of public schools, here’s a deceptive CNN headline: “A school district in Oregon is accused of forcing LGBTQ students to read the Bible as punishment.” Sounds bad, but as far as I can tell, the kids aren’t necessarily being punished for being gay. They’re being punished for whatever naughty thing they did, and all bad kids are given the Bible treatment by one particular disciplinarian. It’s not clear. That said, it’s not constitutional to force the Bible down someone’s throat, gay or straight. 

    At any rate, there’s more than a whiff of homophobia at this school, where one teacher said gay marriage was like marrying a dog, and another said homosexuality is a choice. I see that an investigation is underway and a hearing is scheduled May 24.

    Across the Pond

    I just listened to the Eurovision winner, the contestant from Israel. This year, the Irish entry was a gay guy, and his performance included dreamy dancing between two men. Since Ireland reached the semifinals, and since Eurovision is such a major event, all those antigay countries (we’re looking at you, Russia) were obliged to broadcast the gay-positive scenes. Hah!

    Eurovision is like the World Cup, if you ask me. An incredibly popular European thing with next to no entertainment value for the average American. I’m not speaking of pretentious Europhiles who refer to “American football,” and claim to root for Manchester United. I’m talking about us regular Yanks who have no idea where Lithuania might be located, and don’t care. 

    It’s between Latvia and Poland. I had to look it up.

    And speaking of posh happenings in Europe, it is time again for the Cannes Film Festival, where a coming of age lesbian film from Kenya called Rafiki is getting rave reviews. Back in Kenya, however, the film is not so popular. Director Wanuri Kahiu told the press that her government might have her arrested once she returns from the Riviera. I’m not sure what law Kahiu may have broken, but homosexuality itself, or should we say “carnal knowledge against the order of nature,” is a felony in Kenya with a jail term of 14 years. This state of affairs may change depending on a lawsuit now before Kenya’s highest court.

    The last time a lesbian film made waves in Cannes was when Blue Is the Warmest Color won the Palme D’Or in 2013. That was a film with an extraordinary ability to make its most avid viewers become bored with graphic lesbian sex. Seriously! I had to fast forward through a large part of the film because of the five and ten-minute blocks of repetitive whatever. I later read that the actresses accused the director of emotional abuse on set; it was complicated. 

    Also, our beloved community member Kristen Stewart took off her spike heels to walk up the red carpeted staircase on her way to judge one of the movies. According to Variety, women have been obligated to wear very high heels to the Cannes festivities, although French officials say that there is no official rule on female footwear.

    Happy Ending Ahead

    So. There’s nothing like ranting and raving over an injustice, only to see the whole business resolved after you’ve written several hundred words on the matter. But, of course, it’s all worth it in the end. 

    In this case, I had been writing about an army chaplain, Tim Brown, based in Fort Bragg. Brown married his Honduras-born husband in January of 2017, and yet Sergio Avila-Rodriguez was detained by immigration after reporting for a hearing as previously instructed. Immigration authorities said his status as the spouse of a citizen did not trump the fact that he failed to report for an immigration court date in 2002 and that he was charged with driving under the influence in 2015. 

    Since Avila-Rodriguez was seven years old in 2002, he is hardly culpable of some kind of court date infraction. As for the DUI, that’s not grounds for deporting the husband of an American service member. Happily, the ICE agents released Sergio after five days in the immigration slammer, and he is no longer under threat of immediate deportation. He and Tim have already spent thousands trying to line up the paperwork for his marriage-based green card. It should not be this difficult.

    Die Well, Readers!

    Before we continue, may I just say how annoying it is that TV commentators no longer use adverbs? I don’t mean to be a pedant, but it hurts my ears when some sports person says, “He played aggressive,” or, “She really hit that clean.” It’s “aggressively,” “cleanly.” Speak clearly, guys!

    One of the reasons my mind is flittering around like a bumble bee is that my wife is talking to me as I type. My subject, in theory, is GLBT legal and political news. Mel’s subject is the shortage of immigrants to work the crab season in Maryland. Yes, I managed the first paragraph about bad grammar on TV, but in general, Mel is winning. She is distracting me. She’s been on this subject for a while and I assume she is reading a long form feature article. 

    There’s nothing that can really compare to soft shell crabs from the Chesapeake Bay, is there? Lightly battered and pan fried over high heat. A squeeze of lemon. A dab of tartar sauce. You can make sandwiches with them too. The juxtaposition of Trump’s xenophobic immigration policies and their impact on such a fragile American delicacy is sobering. But enough said.

    By the way, am I the only one alarmed by the notion that huge asteroids seem to appear out of the blue and zip pretty close to Earth? As I write, a “lost” asteroid the size of the Statue of Liberty is about to pass within 126,000 miles of us, half the distance to the moon. This asteroid was “lost” for many years until it was rediscovered last week! 

    Didn’t you have the impression that we could see these dangers well in advance and maybe shoot something at the ones that come too close? If they’re going to pop up on the radar with no notice, we could be obliterated at any time. Kind of puts the crab industry crisis into perspective, n’est-ce pas

    The New Orange

    We will not escape the current state legislative sessions without the passage of any antigay legislation, but for the moment, our defeats are just two. Just after the last issue went to press, Oklahoma and Kansas both passed laws allowing adoption and foster parenting groups to discriminate based on their religious beliefs. In other words, the Sooners and the Sunflowers gave the green light to rejecting gay and lesbian putative parents out of hand.

    I know that Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed her bill, and if Kansas’s Jeff Colyer hasn’t done so, he will soon, I guess. Shame on both of you. It bears repeating that dislike of gay men and women is not a tenet of Christian faith. You’ve got the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, all the various things Jesus said (marked in red) and the list goes on. Christianity says nothing about dissing gay people or preventing them from opening their hearts and homes to orphan children. I think it might even disapprove of such disapproval.

    Meanwhile, the latest battle in the ongoing war between Trump and Trans comes in the context of federal prisons, which will no longer place transwomen in the female prison population.  Rewriting Obama era rules that gave gender identity a strong role in determining where a person would be placed, the new regulations look first to sex at birth. Exceptions can be made on a case-by-case basis if a convict has made significant progress towards a transition. 

    The manual of standards originally was designed to “ensure the Bureau of Prisons properly identifies, tracks, and provides services to the transgender population.” Now, Trumpsters have added a concluding clause to that sentence: ” … consistent with maintaining security and good order in Federal prisons.” Since maintaining good order and security in prison is taken for granted and need not be spelled out in manuals, one wonders why the extra language was tacked on. In essence, it adds a big, bold “if we feel like it” to the commitment we make to transgender prisoners. 

    Can you imagine what it would be like to be a transwoman housed in the general male population of a federal prison? 

    arostow@aol.com