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    Ann Rostow: Updates

    1-Ann-RostowBy Ann Rostow


    Last time, I mentioned that the Republican National Committee was poised to consider a bunch of non-binding resolutions during their summer meeting, including a couple of bizarre notions about us. Turns out both extreme antigay resolutions were voted down, so at least the Grand Odd Party won’t be recommending that public schools teach the downside of homosexuality or that gay rights no longer be subject to the whims of federal courts.

    They will, however, be backing the “First Amendment Defense Act,” a nasty little hall pass for people who want to discriminate freely, and I assume they’ll end up with a number of other splintery planks in their eventual platform. Still, it seems they have some outer limits.

    Also, do you remember that John Travolta was heading to a pre-trial deposition that might have obliged the star to recount some less-than-straight Saturday night fevers? Well, for reasons unclear, the former pilot who claims he was Travolta’s lover for many years dropped his civil suit just in time. A change of heart? Maybe just a lot of change.

    Oh, I don’t know or really care. I’m just speculating.

    And I was happy to read in my favorite appellate law blog that a lawsuit has been partially reinstated against a Cincinnati suburb that has being trying to force a woman to give away her miniature pony because it allegedly violates some ordinance against having farm animals at your house. Just how many miniature ponies have you seen on a farm, people? At any rate, the poor woman lost in a lower court, but we may yet see a happy ending. The pony is very very cute.

    This is the problem with perusing “How Appealing,” the aforementioned blog, which is full of attractive side stories that prove over and over again that appellate law is a gripping topic indeed.

    Before we finish off the updates from our previous issue, you should know that I have continued to suffer at the hands of the inept New York Times delivery staff. I reached the breaking point yesterday (again no paper) and cancelled my subscription, only to be sweet talked back into the fold with a deal. And what happened this morning? No paper again! It’s not even the paper itself. It’s the compounded irritation that now approaches rage every time I fail to see the blue wrapper on my driveway. My mornings are ruined by these dark emotions.

    Discrimination Pays

    So here’s a clever money-making scheme. Find a friendly baker who goes to church once in a while. Convince him or her to refuse your gay business. Make a stink, or file a lawsuit if you live in a state with an anti-discrimination law. Then, sit back and let the cash flow in from the baker’s sympathizers on crowdfunding sites. Split the proceeds.

    We’ve talked about this phenomenon before. Last week, a Colorado appellate court ruled against one of these refusenik bakers, who immediately popped online to solicit money from other Christians. I don’t know how much Jack Philips of Masterpiece Cakeshop has pulled in, but reports say that his Oregon counterpart, Melissa Klein, has banked around $400,000 to date. Not bad!

    I just read one of those annoying articles calling on our community to “be gracious” in victory and try to “live and let live.” Why force people to make cakes or participate in our weddings when a) they obviously oppose our happiness and b) there are plenty of friendly businesses around to serve us instead?

    But no one is actually trying to get the cakes. The gay men who were rejected by Mr. Philips bought a cake elsewhere— obviously! Their complaint was based on the denial of service in violation of state law, and no one forced Philips to bake anything. He was cited for the violation and ordered not to discriminate in the future, which apparently represents a costly hardship.

    If you think the name Masterpiece Cakeshop sounds familiar, it’s because this case has been wandering through the Colorado system for ages. Now it may be headed to the Colorado Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court has already refused to consider a pro-gay ruling in the case of the antigay wedding photographer in New Mexico.

    Saab Story

    Good news. The New York Times was finally delivered, so I had the opportunity to read about everything from red pandas to middle-class teenage girls in Britain who run off to join ISIS. Oh, and my car broke down when I went to the convenience store just now, and I had to push it to the garage and walk home in 100 degree heat. So, I guess the news isn’t all good. I’m having a glass of rosé de Provence to recuperate.

    Speaking of girls running away, I read that Rosie O’Donnell’s 17-year-old daughter Chelsea has disappeared and everyone is now on the lookout for her in the New York area. Hope that turns out okay.

    The thought of Rosie makes me think of Trump, which makes me think of Carly Fiorina, which makes me think of the new phenomenon I’ve been reading about called RBF, “resting (rhymes with witch) face.” I guess the phenomenon isn’t “new” per se, just newly identified with such precision. At any rate, Carly has it: the tendency to look like the “b” word when you’re just sitting there and don’t realize anyone’s looking at you.

    Many women with RBF are, in fact, quite charming. And I’m not sure if there’s a male equivalent, so there’s something inherently sexist about the concept, given that men also go around with blank expressions but do not appear unpleasant. I mean, really. Are women supposed to have vague, Mona Lisa-esque, smiles on their faces at all times?

    Still, I think I can accuse Carly of RBF without losing my feminist credentials because her resting face seems to match her persona. The chutzpah of ruining Hewlett Packard through bad management and subsequently parading one’s high tech business experience as an asset is not to be believed. And yet, is she any worse that the average Republican who seems to forget which party destroyed the Middle East, led us into two lengthy and pointless wars, brought down the savings and loan industry, and subsequently trashed the global economy?

    I can’t get started on the Republicans right now, but I will say that the notion that Donald Trump will even come close to winning the GOP nomination is ludicrous, and the political media should know it. For God’s sake, they’re the ones who spent weeks and weeks breathlessly reporting on Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Michelle Bachman, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, and a host of flare ups who led the polls at one time or another. This is not their first rodeo, and yet there they are, losing their hats and rolling around in the dust. Personally, I’ll be waiting at the bar, drinking Lone Star on tap and watching college football. Call me after Super Tuesday for the bull-riding contest.

    Jerk Clerk

    I was going to lead with the (allegedly) thrice-married Kentucky clerk who is now defying a court order by continuing to deny marriage licenses to gay couples (or anyone else for that matter). And yet here I am, two-thirds into my column with nary a word about Kim Davis.

    Part of my reluctance is the sensation of relief. After covering the fight for marriage equality since the mid-nineties, nearly 20 years, must I really devote my energies to a sour mash clerk who seems to be the very last government official in America to fall in line with the mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court?

    But this woman actually does deserve press coverage. She alone represents a key aspect of the clash between civil rights and religious rights because she alone has insisted that this clash be litigated by a federal court. Davis, who may not be removed from office except by the legislature, was sued for her intransigence, and lost the other day. Normally, she would have been obliged to issue licenses, but because she has decided to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the pragmatic judge let her off the hook and stayed his decision until the appellate court weighs in.

    You may remember that the Sixth Circuit was the only appellate court to rule against marriage equality last year, a decision that led to the High Court showdown in Obergefell. But the question at hand has little to do with marriage rights, and everything to do with the obligations of a government official. If I don’t believe women should drive as a matter of faith, can I reject female applicants at the DMV? No, I can’t! I can’t even believe I have to write something like that.

    Beyond the issue, my dear readers, this Davis woman is insufferable. She appears to be a hypocrite with at least one, possibly two or three divorces under her belt. She has hired her family members in the clerk’s office. She refuses to speak in public and hides from the press. She’s just plain nasty and mean. The really annoying part is that she will probably pick up a cool half million in crowdfunding once all of this is over. Oh, and how about the fact that no one in Rowan County (population 23,000) can get married until the Sixth Circuit puts an end to Davis’s grandstanding.

    Despicable Them

    You’d think that Kim Davis would top our list of most horrible people this fortnight, but we might give that honor to a couple of Michigan lawmakers, both Republican Tea Party types elected on a Christian family values platform. Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat are freshmen house members. Both are married with kids; Todd has four and Cindy has three.

    I hardly know where to begin. First of all, they started having a secret affair and combined their offices into one, even though their districts were 100 miles apart. They picked fights with GOP leadership in a childish Tea Party way and complained about the furnishings in their offices. Neither of them went to community meetings or answered constituent calls from their districts. The only legislation they introduced were fringe bills on social issues, including Courser’s effort to ban clergy from performing same-sex marriages. (Think about that.)

    According to one of their three aides, they would skip meetings, hide in the office, take naps, and sneak kisses. In April, Gamrat got kicked out of party caucus meetings for posting on Facebook during the sessions and Courser stopped going to the meetings in solidarity. One of their aides quit over the mess.

    Now it gets weird. At some point, Courser feared the affair would become public, so in May, he decided to spread a rumor that he had been caught doing drugs and paying for gay sex. The idea was to make himself the victim of a witch-hunt in order to distract from any future accusations. Caught by an aide on audiotape, he called the plan a “controlled fire.” The aide refused to go along with the scam, but Courser himself sent anonymous emails to party leaders and the press “leaking” the salacious story.

    In July, both remaining staffers are fired, including the guy who refused to send the fake email. He had conveniently taped the original conversation.

    Somehow, the whole thing blew up in early August, at which point both lawmakers posed with their spouses and asked everyone for forgiveness. Gamrat claimed she had nothing to do with the drug and gay sex story, while Courser claimed he invented the scuttlebutt as a ruse to smoke out someone who was blackmailing him over the affair.

    Both now insist they will not be “forced” out of office by their adversaries and are relying on Christian good will and understanding or something. The whole thing is unbelievable, and I do believe they have outdone Kim Davis for worst scumbags of the canicular weeks.