The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that local governments and state universities can no longer provide health insurance to the partners of gay employees. Such benefits are now unconstitutional because Michigan’s 2004 anti-gay marriage amendment. Remember when the supporters of these amendments told us that they were merely aimed at preserving the traditional definition of marriage, that the amendments were not supposed to hurt gay couples? This ruling shows how spurious those arguments were.

It is kind of funny though, the rule of unintended consequences and all. Many universities in Michigan have altered their benefit policies to cover basically any person living with a state employee. Marriage used to have a special place in these University policies, now it isn’t even mentioned. In efforts to “protect” marriage by keeping gays out, this case shows that our opponents only undermine their supposed cause.

O’Reilly and the Gays

Bill O’Reilly’s homophobia and hypocrisy make me chuckle

An interesting study by Professor Richard Lippa of California State University examines the correlation of certain personality traits to both gender and sexuality. A highlight of some of the major findings:

Lesbian women were somewhat higher on openness and instrumentality than straight women were, and they were somewhat lower on neuroticism.

That surely seems to contradict a prevailing stereotype (usually pushed by religious conservatives ) that paints gay women as emotionally disturbed. Anyway, moving along, the study also finds:

As was true for the corresponding results for men, lesbian-straight female differences mirrored male-female differences—that is, traits that lesbians scored higher on than straight women were also traits that men scored higher on than women, and vice versa. The really big lesbian-straight female differences were for M-F of interests and self-ascribed M-F. Lesbian women had much more masculine occupational and hobby preferences than heterosexual women did. The effect size for this difference implies that 93% of lesbian women had interests that were more masculine than the average straight woman’s. Furthermore, lesbians rated themselves to be considerably more masculine and less feminine than straight women did. Thus, lesbians seemed to openly acknowledge and embrace their masculinity more than gay men acknowledged and embraced their femininity.


Why are there on-average homosexual-heterosexual differences in personality?

Furthermore, why do these differences tend to mirror gender differences in personality? One possibility is that there are biological factors (e.g., prenatal exposure to sex hormones) that cause both gender differences and sexual orientation differences in personality. This “essentialist” position holds that there are some innate personality differences between men and women and also between heterosexual and homosexual individuals, and the underlying factors that cause these two kinds of differences overlap. Other possibilities include various social-environmental explanations for homosexual-heterosexual differences in personality. For example, perhaps powerful gender and sexual orientation stereotypes mold individuals’ self-concepts and their gender-related traits and behaviors. In addition, subcultural norms, roles, and pressures may lead to different traits in heterosexual men, heterosexual women, gay men, and lesbian women. For example, macho peer norms often lead many teenage boys in our society to behave in very masculine ways, whereas gay and lesbian subcultures sometimes push their members to experiment with gender-bending roles that depart from normative masculinity and femininity (e.g., the campy gay man, the “bull dyke”).

Many thoughts a brewing over this, but I won’t be able to comment, unfortunately. To those few readers who still check out the Blitz, I’m considering a relaunching of efforts in June after wrap up my final year of undergrad and move to DC. I anticipate bringing more content on US foreign policy and the elections, but will remain devoted to stories on gay equality as always.

I’ve already commented on how the State Department discriminates against its gay employees by denying their partners the benefits that spouses of straight employees enjoy. This story highlights how they discriminate against married gays in passport application process. Jason Hair-Wynn, a gay man married in Massachusetts was denied a passport because he legally changed his surname by hyphenating it his husband’s. His passport application rejection came with a letter stating that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibited the legal recognition of his new name, even though it is in fact his legal name!

Hair-Wynn will have to reapply for a passport using his original surname, in spite of the fact that both his driver’s license and social security information include the hyphenation.

I understand the prohibitions on gay recognition that DOMA enforces, but in this case it seems the State Department is going above and beyond its requirements. While trying to deny the legal existence of gay couples (as DOMA requires), the State Department is actually refusing to recognize the legal identity of gay individuals who choose to change their name.

In case you missed it, check out this clip of Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern’s tirade against gays.

Kern has refused to apologize and maintains that she is not a gay-basher. She reportedly received a standing ovation from fellow Oklahoma Republican lawmakers in a closed meeting on Monday for her remarks.

Another notable contribution of Rep. Kern was her sponsorship of HB 2200, which would prohibit public schools from penalizing students whose religious beliefs are in conflict with scientific theory. An identical bill, HB 2211, passed the OK House Education Committee last week. Jamelle has more at US of Jamerica.

Marriage in Iowa

An attempt by Iowa republicans to push through a state constitutional amendment to keep gays from marrying has failed. The state supreme court is still considering the case after a Polk County judge found the decade old ban on marriage equality violated the state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses last August.

Could it actually be that Republicans won’t be able to gay-bait their way to office this election? We’ll have to wait and see–a recent poll shows Iowans are split on the issue. 62% oppose marriage equality, but a majority favor civil unions. Iowans are about evenly split over a constitutional amendment, with 48% in favor and 47% against.

Speaking about same sex unions at a campaign stop in Appalachia today, Obama said:

I think that it is a legal right that they should have that is recognized by the state. If people find that controversial then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans.

Although Obama doesn’t think gay unions deserve the word marriage, I think his rhetoric on behalf of gay equality is very compelling.  It’s not just that fact that he’s using religiously-based, but easily translatable moral imperatives to counter religious homophobia, but that he’s speaking on behalf of gay equality to largely hostile crowds.  Even if Obama doesn’t deliver on his rhetoric, it is very promising that we have a major Presidential contender speaking this compellingly and unabashedly about gay equality.