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    Ann Rostow: This Can’t Happen

    By Ann Rostow–

    This Can’t Happen

    It’s hard to know what to make of Trump and company’s decision to ask the Supreme Court to intervene in the pending lawsuits challenging Trump’s impromptu decision to oust transgender men and women from the military. Let’s be clear. These lawsuits have not yet been addressed by the lower courts. We don’t need law degrees to understand that litigation goes up through the appellate courts before reaching the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court does not take an ongoing case unless there is some major legal imperative or crisis that demands immediate review, so this petition is bizarre, to put it mildly.

    Nor does the government even try to justify what is basically a request for emergency action. After all, transgender troops have been serving for years, and most recently have been serving under pro-trans policies instituted by the Obama administration after a lengthy review by the RAND Corporation. Those policies have been left in place by two appellate courts while the underlying lawsuits play out; both the Ninth and the D.C. Circuits issuing injunctions against the Trump craziness. Those injunctions, in turn, are based in part on the appellate courts’ view that the transgender troops will eventually prevail.

    It would be an astonishing decision to accept this petition, and yet we live in astonishing times.

    It takes four justices to agree to hear a case, and for the purposes of argument, let’s assume Chief Justice Roberts would not be in favor of looking like a complete idiot in the legal history books. But what about the other four amigos? I think we know that none of them are fans of transgender troops, but are they so far gone that they’d agree to grab these cases out of the appellate dockets based on an urgent need to immediately remove several thousand patriotic transgender men and women now serving their country? I’ll believe it when I see it, which I hope is never.

    For the record, Trump ordered his own “review” of transgender troops and determined that they could serve as long as they remained true to their gender at birth. That’s a nice compromise! Why not make Black troops color their faces white, or gay troops promise to be straight?

    Jimmy Stewart, Actually

    I can’t even think about Trump today. Sometimes I just have to block it all out. Right now, I’m adrift without my trusty laptop, which is taking a break from normal operation and sleeping, leaving me to write to you on Mel’s iPad. That means nonsensical autocorrect phrases keep appearing at random, and since I don’t notice them at first, I have to rewrite copy after I’ve forgotten the clever prose that was originally intended, cheating my readers of my delightful off-the-cuff constructions.

    Oh, what the hell. It’s the holidays! Speaking of which, I have noticed among the millennials in my family that one of Hugh Grant’s sappy movies, Love Actually, is considered a holiday tradition to be watched annually. Look, I know I’m older, but my holiday tradition is (naturally) It’s a Wonderful Life, a classic that spans generations and delivers a heartwarming salute to human goodness. In a pinch, I’ll take Miracle on 34th Street, but spare me Grant and the one-note puppy dog characters he inhabits. As Dorothy Parker once wrongly said about Katherine Hepburn, he runs the gamut of human emotion from A to B.

    Most importantly, I don’t believe that a ten or even fifteen-year-old movie can be considered a holiday tradition. Give it half a century, please. Finally, you date yourself if you remember Amahl and the Night Visitors, a 1951 opera that was televised around Christmas in the 1960s. Personally, I’ve never heard of it.

    Pot Pourri

    My news list this week is a hodgepodge of GLBT this and that, including the marriage of retired football star Jeff Rohrer to his partner, Joshua Ross. Jeff played for the Cowboys back in the day, while Joshua was the aesthetician for The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I’m not quite sure what that means, but I’m happy for them both. I was checking on this story when Google asked me if I was looking for “NFL star marries stalker,” and I must admit that this sounded even more interesting than our gay athlete.

    Apparently, Stacey Bernice Saunders had an affair with former San Diego Charger Chris Chambers, and when his wife found out, he broke it off. Not to be deterred, Saunders continued to pursue her man, racking up 11 misdemeanor counts of stalking the Chambers family. She’s due in court in January, but in a plot twist worthy of Love Actually, Chambers has since gotten a divorce and married the persistent mistress.

    In other random news, there was much ado about a lesbian kiss that aired on TV during the Thanksgiving Day Parade. I don’t remember anything like that happening during the Miracle on 34th Street, but maybe that’s why traditional holiday movie selections evolve over time.

    Then we had the demise of White Magazine, an Australian bridal publication that refused to cover same-sex marriages. The 12-year-old magazine said it declined to pick a side in a culture war, although most of us would consider a blackball on gay weddings to indeed be picking a side—the wrong side, as it happens, since a ton of advertisers hit the road.

    And I don’t know if you remember Cross Coburn, the gay teenaged councilman from Groves, Texas, who was voted out in a recall last Election Day. Coburn sent naughty pix to the guys on Grindr, not that there’s anything wrong with that in theory. But not surprisingly, they became public, and the citizens of Groves signaled their displeasure. Some presented the story as an example of discrimination, but in my humble opinion, you should keep your privates off the internet while holding elected office. That goes for you straight guys as well.

    Coburn was 19 when he won an uncontested seat last year. “I do not believe that me having consensual conversations with another adult has any merit to how I can perform my duties,” he said. But “conversations” were not at issue here. Whoever publicized the nude shots was not a particularly nice person, but as they say, politics ain’t beanbag and if you’re in politics, don’t put your beanbag online.

    Fools Rush In

    Did any of you see The New York Times article about the gay Hillary supporters from Manhattan who switched over to become staunch Trumpites after the 2016 election?

    Bill White and Bryan Eure are wealthy, middle-aged white Democrats, or they were until they got depressed at Clinton’s election night party and decided to zip over to the fun crowd celebrating Trump’s victory. Speaking to the Times, Eure said he doesn’t believe in “identity politics,” while White explained that Trump “has an authenticity.”

    At this point, they now have Don Junior’s cell number on speed dial, and are planning a $5 million fundraiser this winter. Are you frigging kidding me?

    I usually hate it when reporters discover gay community anomalies, like “here’s a gay couple who oppose marriage equality!” or “this lesbian thinks gay couples shouldn’t have children!” The fact that one or two nutcases reject the gay civil rights movement’s signature goals is not newsworthy if 98 percent of us are unified. But this story is different.

    This is like a three-headed cat or a piece of toast that spells “toast” in burn marks. It’s also a sign that the needs of upper class gay white men have officially been met by our movement. (Did I mention that these guys are legally married?) Those in this demographic who continue to fight for equality do so out of principle, not self-interest. That’s progress in a way, but it does leave us with people like Bill and Bryan, who have been ostracized by their old friends.

    Oh, and the men dismiss the notion that Trump and company encourage racist attitudes by insisting that Trump has lowered the Black unemployment rate. Really, guys? I’m not in a position to judge their hearts and minds, but what the heck! I’m judging. Read the article.

    Time to Tie One on in Taiwan

    The big international news this week is the unfortunate result of several referendums on gay rights in Taiwan. They lost big time in a setback to the island nation’s liberal government, which has done next to nothing to force the issue of marriage equality. A public vote on policy, so familiar to Californians, is a new development in Taiwan. We could have warned them that referendums can be influenced by whichever group has the most money and organization, in this case, conservative Christians, but it’s too late now. One government official told The New York Times that the important thing was “to give the people an opportunity to express their opinions.” Tell that to the gay couples who saw their fight for marriage or civil partnerships both voted down.

    Last year, the nation’s high court ruled in favor of gay couples’ recognition, ordering the government to find a way to offer marriage or marriage rights within two years. Instead of pressing the issue in the legislature, where the Democratic Progressive Party held sway, the government held back, letting the chips fall where they may. The chips fell nowhere, and this vote now suggests the legislature will wind up meeting the court deadline with some half-baked compromise.

    Sometimes nuanced political machinations are just the ticket, and sometimes you have to act decisively. I have found this to be true in many of life’s challenges. You have to cut a large sandwich in half with a fast, committed strike of the knife. You have to whack the top off a soft-boiled egg sharply, not tap at it like it’s made of glass. Do these sound like inconsequential examples? Perhaps, but the premise extends to a myriad of situations. Breaking up when you know it’s over. Quitting your hated job. Telling your parents that you are spending Christmas at the beach. Telling the legislature that you control to pass marriage equality when it’s easily within reach.

    Of course, the reverse is true. Be careful when you cut a tomato. Don’t quit your job or your lover out of pique. Whip the votes strategically when necessary. Just figure out when dithering helps and when it hurts.

    Sapphic Switcharoo

    Speaking of things going on in the Far East, I loved the story of The Bachelor: Vietnam, where two of the contestants vying for the love of a handsome man fell in love with each other and ran away together. The show’s producer, Anh Tran, told the press: “We’ve delivered on our promise that two people would find love.” He just hadn’t expected that the happy couple would bypass the bachelor. I haven’t seen it, but there’s a viral video of Minh Thu, who was not given a rose, professing her love to fellow contestant Truc Nhu. Although Nhu returned to the show, she eventually left to be with Thu, and the two are now a couple.

    Okay, I just watched! I guess Truc Nhu had been given the rose, and went up and gave it back to the bachelor before walking off the set with Minh Thu. Quel drame!

    Now, with a hundred words left to me, I am preparing to rejoin my wife at the television machine in the back room where I keep hearing disturbing snippets about Manafort, Khashoggi, tear gas, racism, climate change, the Camp Fire, car manufacturing, martial law in the Ukraine, and the list goes on.

    Worse, every now and then comes the braying voice of you know who, a sound that increasingly I cannot tolerate even for an instant. I have become one of those people who stays in a news bubble. And yet my reaction is visceral. I Can Not Stand This President.