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    Ann Rostow— Don’t Let the Terrorists Win!

    annboxBy Ann Rostow

    Don’t Let the Terrorists Win!

    It’s bizarre to evaluate my list of GLBT headlines in the middle of yet another ISIS attack on the West. I wonder, however, why terrorism in Turkey gets a couple of minutes on the news roundup, while a bomb in Brussels warrants nonstop coverage on cable. Close to a hundred people dead in Ankara last fall was business as usual. A dozen were killed in Istanbul at the start of the year, nearly 30 more in Ankara last month, and three dozen more in the capital city last week.

    I understand why our media does not highlight mass terrorist killings in Iraq or Syria. These are war zones. And I sort of see why an attack on Turkey, sitting on the edge of the Levant and immersed in religious politics, is less of a shock to the assignment editors at CNN than a bomb in the Brussels airport. But the hysteria gap is notable nonetheless. Plus, there’s nothing more irritating than the type of blanket TV news that features droning anchors and “experts” repeating the same information ad infinitum for hours.

    Finally, this is just what ISIS wants, isn’t it? It’s like featuring the biography of a deranged school shooter, which inspires some other loner nutcase to reach for posthumous fame in his own spectacular blaze of gunfire.

    But let’s move on to GLBT news before this column can be accused of the same overreaction. I have to say first that, as I write, I am experiencing the strange mental juxtaposition of watching alarmist TV with the sound off and hearing a song from a GE commercial that is sticking in my head for some reason: “I’m a wise elf from a far off Shire. Sanjee Patel is who you should hire…” It’s driving me nuts.

    Deal Breaker

    In the midst of numerous state legislative battles over religion and GLBT civil rights, the state of Georgia is leading the news. There, Governor Nathan Deal, a term-limited Republican who does not have voters to face in the future, has until May 3 to veto a “religious freedom” bill that could possibly give businesses a free pass to discriminate. I say “possibly” because the bill has been rewritten and tweaked several times along its twisted path through the Georgian legislature. The previous version was so horrendous that I think a veto would have been automatic. But the final effort, though somewhat improved, is still pretty bad.

    It’s bad enough that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has warned the Peach Tree State that it might lose the 2019 or 2020 Superbowl if the bill is signed. The Atlanta Braves, the Falcons and the Hawks have also come out against the measure. And the NCAA says it could reconsider holding the 2018 football championship and the 2020 Final Four in Atlanta.

    Dozens of corporations have rallied against the bill, including Coke, Marriott, Salesforce, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Virgin and the list goes on. Still, it’s probably the Big Sports FOMO that could uncap Governor Deal’s veto pen. Forgive me if I stereotype Georgia and its political leaders.

    We are seeing in Georgia a repeat of what we saw in Indiana last year, when American corporations and sports institutions led a backlash against the Hoosiers’ antigay law. Within a couple of days of signing that bill, Indiana Governor Mike Pence was forced to send the bill back to lawmakers for a significant modification. Since then, other states have been reluctant to test the limits of antigay language, and indeed, even this Georgia bill does not explicitly allow private businesses to discriminate as did the original Indiana measure.

    But it’s made of the same cloth, and it allows faith-based groups to turn down gay hires and reject gay use of facilities and services. Would that extend to companies who, like Hobby Lobby, are owned by Christian employers? Um, that’s not clear.

    Hushing Charlotte

    As we wait for Governor Deal to make his decision, we are watching a number of other states where bad things lurk in corners of committees and smoke-filled chambers. The most jarring state of affairs is to be found in North Carolina, where the legislature has called a special session to tell the city of Charlotte that it cannot let its new GLBT public accommodations ordinance go into effect next month as scheduled. The ordinance would protect the community against discrimination at restaurants, hotels and the like, and obviously would result in sexual predators being given free rein to stalk children in public restrooms.

    Well, that’s the justification that lawmakers are using to justify the emergency session, which was scheduled by the representatives themselves even after the governor declined to call them back. The vote, as we go to press, is expected to go against the city of Charlotte—and any other city in the state that might follow Charlotte’s lead.

    I’ve said it too many times, so I won’t go back into my full rant against bathroom bills. But I would like to see a small activist group made up of transmen, the scruffier the better, who are willing to stand in line at ladies rooms all over the country in front of the press until the public finally realizes exactly what this insanity is really advocating.

    That’s What She Said

    Did Hillary just say what we thought she said? Oh, I know it’s old news by now, but I can’t ignore it completely, even though she recovered at once. You’ve read, of course, that Clinton praised Nancy Reagan (and her husband!) for speaking up about AIDS at a time when few people were discussing the epidemic. Needless to say she was lambasted for this completely erroneous compliment, and as said, she quickly reversed herself, said she “misspoke” and called for renewed energy in the fight against HIV.

    But I still have to wonder where the hell this notion came from. How on Earth could anyone associate Nancy Reagan with AIDS in the first place? Did Hillary have some private conversations over a few tequila shots in the East Room? Was she confusing Nancy with some other leading lady of the 1980s? Is she simply that clueless? Enquiring minds want to know!

    Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on the story with the online headline: “Hillary Clinton Lauds Reagans on AIDS; Gay Twitter Erupts.” Gay Twitter? What’s that, tweeted keyboards of both gay and straight commentators alike? Some objected to the implication that only gay people would be upset by the gaffe. Others found the concept of Gay Twitter annoying on principle. As “The Wrap” put it: “New York Times Invents Gay Twitter; Gay Twitter Erupts.”

    I’d give the headline writers a break. We all know what was meant by “Gay Twitter.” It’s a thing.

    It’s Madness

    I just wasted some time watching three lion cubs lying lazily on their sides passing a rubber ball from one cub to the next with their adorable little paws. They were really involved in the game.

    Oh. Are any of you college basketball fans? If not, skip ahead two paragraphs.

    My home team, the University of Texas, lost its game on a last-second shot from beyond half-court, a one in a thousand lucky break which was then replayed over and over again on TV for three straight days. To make matters worse, the lucky team subsequently went down in history by losing a 13-point lead in the last 30 seconds of their next contest. (The other guys kept stealing the ball and scoring when Team Lucky tried to put the ball in play.) Beyond irritating.

    To make matters worse, I am a Yale grad, but I picked Baylor to win because everyone says you should fill out your bracket from “your head not your heart.” Yale won. I also picked Baylor for the following round so I was doubly screwed. Fortunately I am married to a Kansas Jayhawk, as loyal readers know, so I have two victories under my belt and a national championship within my grasp.

    It’s happening again. “I’m a wise elf from a far off Shire.” Make. It. Stop.

    So here’s a frustrating piece of news from an obstinate judge in Puerto Rico. You may recall that Puerto Rico was the scene of one of a tiny handful of anti-marriage rulings back in 2014—the year we won virtually everything. Then, of course, we won marriage at the Supreme Court, which when last we checked, covers the entire country and all its citizens.

    Well, not according to Judge Argle Bargle who ruled that marriage equality only applies to states, and that Puerto Rico was somehow exempt. The decision has obliged Lambda Legal to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit for a writ of mandamus—basically Lambda has asked the presiding court to enforce settled law in this case. And yes, Puerto Rico’s courts are part of the federal court system of the United States and governed by the First Circuit.

    In other marriage news, I think Columbia is going to rule in favor of marriage equality in the next week or so. Personally, I’m waiting for the shoe to drop in Australia, where they’ve been dilly-dallying about marriage for long enough. The definition of marriage Down Under is governed by federal law, so the individual territories are hamstrung until the whole country overturns the Australian version of DOMA. And when will that be?

    According to the current government, there will be a single-issue national election on the topic at some point after the next election. The next election, in turn, will be held at some point between this summer and next January. You do the math. Meanwhile, the Labor Party, which is currently not in power, says they will send a marriage bill to Parliament within 100 days if they are elected. Finally, it’s not clear to me that a “yes” vote on a marriage election would be binding in Parliament, which as I understand it, will be required to cast the definitive vote one way or another.

    One commentator called the entire process “shambolic,” a beautiful word that I think we should all use more often. By the way, I think I’ve said this before, but in the Donald Trump era, everyone’s falling back on “bombast” and “bombastic,” and as usual, employing the term incorrectly. This misuse of “bombast,” which means pedantic blather, was one of my mother’s linguistic pet peeves. It does not mean “loud incendiary talk,” and indeed Trump is anything but bombastic since his speech does not rise beyond a fourth grade level. My mother’s other big peeve was casual use of the word “enormity,” which refers to a great evil. It does not mean that something is merely enormous. It must also be horribly bad.

    Wow!

    And what else is new, you ask?

    I gather the GLBT scientists at the Large Hadron Collider are pissed because people keep defacing their club posters. I include this item because I don’t picture gay activism in this venue, let alone antigay vandalism. It reminds me of the old truism: We’re Here, We’re Queer, We Found the Higgs Boson.

    Also, a gay man has set a Guinness world record for the fastest half-marathon run in a business suit. Is there a world record for everything? Have I just set the record for fastest 2000-word gay news column ever written from a South Austin couch? I think I have.

    And here’s something else–some news you can use. A week or so I noticed an article about an Icelandic discount carrier that just named the call letters on one of its jets: “TF-GAY” to celebrate new routes from San Francisco and LA to Europe. The airline, called WOW Air, sounded very gay friendly indeed.

    So I booked flights for Mel and me from Boston to Amsterdam this summer on WOW and I figure I saved us $1,000. I paid extra for bags and nice seats, but even with that it was very cheap. Check it out yourself.

    And finally, as we go to press comes news that an anti-trans student bill has been shelved in a Tennessee house committee after several members actually met with some of the students who would have been affected. This is a few weeks after South Dakota Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard vetoed a similar bill after he as well met with transgender activists who explained the pernicious impact of such legislation. It just goes to show that there is hope for the political system after all.

    arostow@aol.com