Recent Comments

    Ann Rostow: Easy Choices

    1-Ann-RostowEasy Choices

    Sharp-eared GLBT pundits jumped on Hillary Clinton’s explanation for why her husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act the other day. Speaking to Rachel Maddow, Clinton implied that Bill and others were not really hostile to gay rights, but acting strategically in order to pre-empt an antigay constitutional amendment that would have been far more damaging than a statute.

    Hey, I agree with the pundits. I was alive and well in 1996 and, by chance, I was also reporting on the GLBT community for this very newspaper. I assure you there was zero discussion of a constitutional amendment at that time. Indeed, the debate about same-sex marriage was in its infancy. Hell, it was still in the womb. A constitutional amendment? Not even our most ardent enemies seriously saw the need for such a measure in 1996.

    To belabor the point, the federal DOMA triggered the enactment of so-called “mini-DOMAs” throughout the state legislatures in the late 1990s. It was only later that state lawmakers recognized that these laws would not be sufficient to stop courts from ordering marriage equality, at which point in the early 2000s, not only did the states began to amend their constitutions en-masse, but also conservatives began to rally for a federal amendment.

    I am confident that Bill Clinton harbored little actual ill will towards our community. On the other hand, he had no incentive or personal interest in making a politically costly stand on our behalf at a time when a large American majority held us in contempt. All Hillary had to say was, look, it was 20 years ago. There was no reason to complicate her answer with an easily dis-proven excuse.

    That said, I cannot begin to express how passionately I support Clinton for president. I feel sometimes as if I am a passenger in a plane, and several people are campaigning for captain. Clinton, a veteran pilot, is competing against the guy on my left, who brags that he has never flown a plane, and the guy on my right, who insists that the instruments are useless and planes can be better operated by gut instinct and yelling loudly at the controls. Someone else is offering smoked salmon and Champagne in coach, while another suggests that we all get off the plane and take a cruise ship.

    I am probably the only person you know who not only watched all 11 hours of the Benghazi hearings, but also readHard Choicescover to cover. So I base my admiration for Hillary on the evidence. Still, I was annoyed by her unnecessary obfuscation.

    Say What?

    So, baseball fans. Do you care who wins the World Series? As a Giants fan, I usually root for the National League team, but not this year. First of all, I am married to a Kansan and we are Royals fans. (I broke ranks with her last year, of course.) Second, the Mets and their fans annoy me. And third, Mr. October Daniel Murphy, the Mets second baseman, “disagrees” with “the gay lifestyle” and is not afraid to say it.

    “Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality,” said Murphy. “We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me.”

    Huh? Among other things, Murphy reflects the increasing tendency for public figures to mangle the English language. Rachel Maddow and others creamed House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy last month for his incoherent blather on foreign policy, a descent into a grammatical abyss that made George W. Bush sound

    like Barbara Jordan. I just heard him “speak” a few minutes ago, and he seems to have learned nothing from the backlash, garbling a mix of sentence fragments and non-sequiturs and abandoning key connections between subject, verb and adjective.

    Lately, I will click on a news headline and arrive at a senseless story that seems to have been written by a software program instead of a human being. Has that happened to you? Partial thoughts, unrelated topics in the same paragraph, odd vocabulary words dropped like maraschino cherries into chicken stock. Yes, I know I just wrote a series of sentence fragments, but you know I did that on purpose. A correct exception to the rule.

    “We disagree the lifestyle?” The worst part is that excerpts like these don’t even get the old (sic) designation anymore. Why bother when everyone knows that this is exactly how many people express themselves these days?

    The second worst thing is that Daniel Murphy is a judgmental man. Not only do I want his team to lose, but I also want him to go hitless because I disagree his opinion.

    Paging Doctor Flipper

    Let’s see what else we have to discuss. I was struck to read that Pat Robertson said the High Court’s marriage decision was “only” an opinion, and that state laws against marriage equality remain in force. Really? Back in July, I gather the avuncular lunatic warned us that “love affairs between men and animals are going to be absolutely permitted.”

    We’ve all read versions of the slippery slope arguments, but I’ve never heard the threat of legalized bestiality expressed in such anthropomorphic terms. It’s as if someone fighting against affirmative action insisted that we’ll soon be obliged to let animals go to college. Or maybe the bans on discrimination in public accommodation will someday force a baker to take a cake order from a squirrel. Lots of nuts, please, Mister.

    Speaking of anthropomorphism, I also read about women who plan to have dolphins aid them in childbirth in the open sea. Google it! People do this, or more accurately, discuss doing this, and there’s even an official dolphin blessing ceremony involved in the process. One article, a Newsweek piece headlined: “Dolphin-Assisted Childbirth is a Bad Idea,” noted that the ocean is filled with bacteria and other bad stuff, and that dolphins, for all their intelligence and charm, are unpredictable wild animals. “It’s also conceivable,” the author added, “that another sea creature—such as a shark—could try to ‘help.’”

    Another story on the subject, this one titled “Dolphin-Assisted Birth. Possibly the Worst Idea Ever,” had comments at the end. My favorite: “We have something like this in Canada. It’s called polar bear-assisted birth. This might explain why Canada has one tenth America’s population.”

    She Asked for It!

    The Mormons did something nice the other day, announcing that, regardless of doctrinal opposition, their followers should follow the law on marriage equality. So, thanks for that, Saints.

    And Caitlyn Jenner has another award in hand, tying with Reese Witherspoon for Glamour magazine’s “Woman of the Year.” Some are upset with the latest laurels, including feminist icon Germaine Greer, who contests Jenner’s status as a real woman. I have zero sympathy for the anti-trans threads in the fabric of radical feminism, but on the other hand, I think Jenner is over-hyped, I don’t like her conservative politics and I think she waffled on marriage equality last month on Ellen. Plus, I’m not crazy about reality TV

    stars. Hey, has she had more surgery? She looks a little off these days, and I’m only writing this because Cait’s the one who constantly parades her appearance. I know, I know. Sounds catty. But if you don’t want to be judged on physical attributes, don’t present yourself as a bombshell vixen.

    Damn, I got up for one second and forgot what I was about to say. Ah, yes. It’s news of yet another high school girl nailed for wearing a t-shirt that says: “Nobody Knows I’m a Lesbian.” I almost skipped this item because, after all, we did cover the identical situation a few issues ago, right down to the exact same slogan. This time, however, school authorities in Manteca, near Stockton, allegedly said the phrase was “an open invitation to sex,” and presumably was therefore disruptive enough to warrant censorship.

    Woah, Nelly! With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, the 16-year-old is suing the folks at Sierra High School who made her take off the “provocative” tee. All I can say is that vice principal Greg Leland might wish to recalibrate his sexual radar if he wants to maintain cordial relationships with his female friends and colleagues.

    As Goes Houston, So Goes the Nation?

    Off year elections can be boring, so here’s a race to spark your interest. The city of Houston is being forced to defend its 18-month-old Equal Rights Ordinance in a public vote, and no one really knows how the election will end up. Yes, the nation’s fourth largest city has had a lesbian mayor in Annise Parker since 2009. But that doesn’t make the Bayou City an automatic vote for gay rights, particularly in the context of the religious freedom debates.

    The nasty campaign rhetoric has included the absurd suggestions that the ordinance will allow men to use the ladies room, a tried but untrue scare tactic that our opponents have used since women tried to pass the ERA back in the 1970s. We’ve also heard the bathroom claims every time we’ve fought for gender identity rights, as if anti-discrimination laws would somehow make it legal for men to abduct small girls using public park facilities.

    For the record, most municipalities have never bothered to pass statutes that force everyone to use the gender specific bathroom, so technically, it’s not against the law for a guy to use the ladies room or vice versa. I know I speak for many of my straight and gay sisters when I say I’ve avoided long ladies lines dozens of times by sneaking into the empty men’s john.

    At any rate, watch Houston on November 3. With a headcount of over two million, the city is larger than 15 states in terms of population. It is also the only top ten U.S. city without protections for the GLBT community.


    Speaking of the pending election, you might also keep an eye on the race for city council district five in Goshen, Indiana. The Republican candidate, Brent Randall, is the radio man for the high school football team and the coach of the school’s golf team. Married for 22 years and divorced for six, Mr. Randall was recently obliged to explain just why he maintains a profile on gay hookup site Adam4Adam.

    In a sign of the times, Randall hemmed and hawed, but never denied that he set up the profile. Indeed, I’d almost skip the whole story were it not for the fact that Randall continues to oppose the town’s proposed gay rights amendment.

    “I don’t know if I thought this wouldn’t come up or would (when running for office),” Randall said. “But I still believe in my heart of hearts that our gay and lesbian communities are protected currently under the law. If there are cases that need to be brought, let’s bring them. I don’t know why they feel they need special protections when there are other categories that might need protections. My little experimentation over the last six years hasn’t changed my view on that.”

    Randall said he never actually met anyone from Adam4Adam, but also confessed: “I just experimented a little since I was single again.”

    A few years ago, a man like Randall would have run screaming from the public stage in humiliation, dropping his campaign and moving to Indianapolis. Or maybe he’d try a flat out denial, suggesting that a political enemy had set him up. These days it seems to be enough just to say that he was doing a bit of carousing on the other side of the fence just to see what might happen. No big deal.

    “We are deeply saddened to see someone’s private personal life be exposed, by no choice of his own, for what can only appear to be political motivations,” said the Republican candidate for mayor, Mary Cripe. It’s nice that she’s supportive, but hello! You expose someone when you pull back the shower curtain. Randall took off his clothes and wandered through cyberspace.