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    Fresh Prince

    1-Ann RostowI’ve been off line for a week and have no idea what’s been happening in our wild and wacky GLBT universe. In the short time that I’ve set aside for reviewing the headlines this morning, I did note that we have a new Prince. That’s a shame, only because some of us wanted a Princess to be third in line for the throne under the gender-neutral rules of succession. Now, it’s nothing but Kings as far as the eye can see. That said, I’m happy for the adorable royal couple, of course! I also read that something like 80 percent of British citizens would be supportive of the Princeling if he turned out to be gay. That’s nice. I hope he does.

    I suppose you know that Great Britain legalized marriage equality ten days ago or so. One of the Lords who spoke in opposition wondered aloud what would happen if a lesbian queen got married and chose to have a baby through artificial insemination. Would that child be heir to the throne, he sputtered? And why wouldn’t it? I do think however that the royal family in this hypothetical scenario should give their sperm donor a noble title and a hunting estate in the country.

    Now here’s a question I’ve posed in the past. Why is it that the media cannot differentiate between a generic sex scandal (affair with intern, visit to prostitute) and the bizarre behavior of Anthony Weiner, who seems truly mad? The man is missing several of the elements we associate with being a mature human being. He belongs on the pages of Freud’s diary; a megalomaniac suffering from a sexual short circuit rooted in a deep infant trauma or something. Get him out of our lives, please! It goes without saying that, in view of her amazing reputation, his wife’s loyalty is a profound mystery.

    What else is new? Well, I saw in the Times obituaries this morning that a gay boxer has died. Emile Griffith killed a man in the course of his professional career, landing two-dozen punches in the space of a few seconds and sending him to the hospital where he later kicked the bucket. The unfortunate challenger, Benny Paret, had called Griffith a “maricon,” Spanish for faggot, in the weight room before the match. The rumors surrounding Griffith were true, but back in the early 1960s, Griffith not-surprisingly stayed in the closet, letting his anger and frustration manifest itself in the ring.

    According to the article, Griffith was haunted by Paret’s death and could never quite fight as hard. He eventually came out, sort of, and he died as most boxers do, in a demented state.

    In other gay history news, code breaker and World War II hero Alan Turing was officially pardoned for his gross indecency conviction. Turing was chemically castrated and killed himself after his thankless country nailed him for gay sex, conveniently ignoring the fact that he was instrumental in breaking the Nazi codes, and turning the tide in favor of the Allied forces.

    Texas Tax Man
    Always Rings Twice

    A month or so removed from the Windsor decision, it remains to be seen how the end of the Defense of Marriage Act will affect people like me who got married in a free state, but live in a State of Discrimination. I keep reading about federal benefits that accrue to married couples that live in states recognizing same-sex marriage. But the implications for the rest of us remain murky. Will Mel and I file joint taxes next year? And if not, why not?

    Meanwhile, the ruling is having a ripple effect. In Pennsylvania, a county official has decided to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, based on the Supreme Court’s reasoning. The Keystone State does not have a constitutional amendment banning marriage, but it does have a statute on the books that limits wedlock to a man and a woman. It’s also one of several states targeted with a federal marriage lawsuit, so some believe it might be wiser to wait for a legal resolution rather than go rogue in Montgomery County.

    Still, the tides have turned since San Francisco issued licenses on its own initiative a decade ago. Those marriages, as many of you recall, were later annulled by court order. But maybe Pennsylvanians will have better luck on their shortcut to equality. After all, it takes years for a federal lawsuit to run its course.

    We saw another interesting ripple in Ohio, where two men have gotten a federal court to issue a temporary injunction against the Buckeye anti-marriage amendment. I’m not sure I really understand this, but why should that stop me from blathering on to you about it? As far as I can tell, one of the men is on his deathbed, and the couple has asked the court to force Ohio to recognize their recent Maryland marriage on his death certificate.

    I guess I hadn’t realized that death certificates had a spousal line-item, but it seems they do and I’m assuming it’s an important detail for the survivor to have on record. In this particular case, it’s essential because the two men want to be buried together in the dying man’s family plot, where legal strangers are not allowed.

    The ruling is limited to this marriage only, and will not in theory set a precedent for the state. But you know what? It does set a precedent. Maybe not a legal precedent, but a human one. And you can’t help but wonder what will happen in other Mean States as more of us marry, move and die.

    Speaking of moving, I’m guessing that Mel and I will seriously consider moving out of Texas if nothing changes here in the next several years. How could we not? It’s not just a symbolic impulse anymore. It’s health care, social security, and now our sad single death certificates! What other nuances of married life are threatened by our continued residence in the Lone Star State? Whatever they are, I don’t want either of us to be forced to run over to a federal court in order to resolve them in our favor, particularly if the other one has just died.

    I just checked with Mel on the above paragraph and she agreed, adding that our new state of residence will also be one where the name “Anthony Weiner” is never mentioned. Sounds like we’ll be back in California.

    Brazil? He Twirled a Button, Without a Glance My Way

    For the record, a man named Nick Gilronan won the “Smallest Penis Contest” in Brooklyn the other day. The 27-year-old UPS worker said, and I paraphrase, the size of your dick has no bearing on the content of your character, and I hope you will all join me in applauding the victor as well as his brave fellow contestants. Seriously! It takes some balls to get up on stage and display your tiny penis for the crowd.

    Speaking of being on display, I was reading about a gay kiss-in performed for the benefit of the Pope in Brazil. Later on in the same article, I learned that some of the women of Brazil were planning a SlutWalk on beach in Rio to catch the Pope’s eye. The SlutWalk features woman bare to the waist or lower, activist style, delivering a message against sexual violence. One wonders if these gestures reach the Pontiff’s heart. But still, we appreciate the effort. As we would appreciate bearing witness to the protest itself.

    But Readers, is there nothing else that we can show today?

    New Jersey? We twirl a button.

    Time out. Or as my small granddaughters would say, “pause it.” The subject of Brazil has ensnared me in an Emily Dickenson poem that was one of many my mother used to quote, as a non-sequitor while making breakfast, for example. Obscure, enigmatic, and strangely addictive, it goes like this in its entirety:

    “I asked no other thing. No other was denied. I offered Being for it. The mighty merchant smiled. Brazil? He twirled a button, without a glance my way. But Madam, is there nothing else that we can show today?”

    The reason that I undermined my allusion by bringing the poem out of hiding is that I just looked it up, only to discover that several links suggest that the middle line says: “the mighty merchant sneered.” Others say “smiled,” which is how my mother always said it.

    I think the harsh verb completely changes the feeling of the verse, don’t you? I always found the mighty merchant benignly indifferent, irritatingly so. But I never found Him dismissive or disrespectful. Which is the real version? I don’t even care to find out, because I have already selected the real version for my own purposes.

    Jersey? Sure.

    As I was about to say, I read that we apparently need three New Jersey senators and 12 members of the assembly in order to overturn Chris Christie’s veto and pass marriage equality in the Garden State by next January. Activists are “guardedly optimistic” that the votes can be wrangled by the deadline, but if this plan fails, we still have our lawsuit making progress in state court.

    That lawsuit has thus far consisted of a tedious and unnecessary reprise of our previous New Jersey marriage suit, Lewis v Harris. Back in the day, we “won” a suit for marriage, but even though the state supreme court ruled that same-sex couples deserved all the rights of their straight neighbors, the justices hedged their bets and allowed the legislature to create the “equal” status of civil unions.

    Years passed us by. Even though it was clear that civil unions were not, in fact, the equal of marriage, nothing changed. Trenton ordered commissions and studies. Eventually, we asked the state supreme court to rule that civil unions had failed to meet the standards they set in Lewis. The high court refused. We sued again and were sent back to square one in the lower court. More time went by. The legislature legalized marriage, but Christie vetoed the bill. The state lawsuit continued.

    On July 3, a few days after the Windsor decision, Lambda Legal asked the lower court for a summary judgment stating that New Jersey’s civil union does not provide the equality that the Lewis court purported to demand. There’s no need for a trial, Lambda wrote. With DOMA gone, it’s obvious as a matter of law that civil unions are a second-class status, closing the door to all federal benefits that married couples may access. I have to believe that the court will agree, and I have to assume that the state supreme court will eventually agree as well.

    The question is when. How long will it take for these legal maneuvers to play themselves out?  It could be a bang bang set of rulings, delivering New Jersey into the equal rights column in a matter of months. Or, it could be another year or more of bull pucky messing around from these cravenly lame New Jersey courts. One thing is sure. New Jersey is high up on the list of states targeted for marriage equality and our community is pouring a lot of money into the activist coffers. Over 60 percent of citizens support equality, and the state is poised to capitulate in the near future.

    Despicable Them

    Our column has come to an end before I have had a chance to weigh in on George Zimmerman and the six imbeciles who decided his fate. It’s probably just as well, because my emotional and intellectual reaction to this verdict could fill pages. Yes, I respect the jury system. Yes, I know the inept prosecution did Martin no favors. Yes, I know that the jury didn’t hear everything that we might
    have heard.

    Yes, Florida has their outrageous stand your ground law. Yes, it’s hard to rebut the idea that George Zimmerman felt threatened. But for all of that, it’s not hard to look at the plain facts and see that this man shot an unarmed teenager to death for no reason. Period! Did they get into a fight? Maybe! Who cares? Zimmerman was armed and had fifty pounds on Martin. His life was never threatened, and he can’t just “say” he feared for his safety and get away with it! The verdict was sickening and it deserves no parsing. It was horribly wrong.

    arostow@aol.com