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.

Maps Part I


After 26 years as a career Foreign Service Officer, Ambassador Michael Guest is resigning in protest of State Department rules that discriminate against gay employees and their partners.  From the Washington Post:

Within the State Department, gay men and lesbians are widely accepted, in contrast to the military, where an admission of homosexuality is grounds for dismissal. But Guest and others say the State Department’s regulations have not kept pace with the department’s culture, especially as Foreign Service officers overseas face increasing dangers.

For instance, same-sex partners — or unmarried heterosexual partners — are refused anti-terrorism security training or foreign-language training and are not evacuated when eligible family members are ordered to depart. Unlike spouses, they do not receive diplomatic passports, visas or even use of the State Department mail system. They also must pay their own way overseas, get their own medical care and are left to fend for themselves if a partner is sent to a dangerous post such as Iraq.

Many of these rules, Guest said, could be changed with Rice’s signature, which he said was not a matter of gay rights but of equal treatment.

Personal Note

I’ve been neglecting the Blitz for a while due to end of semester class work. I’m working on research papers on the topics of marriage equality; the role of religion in the public square; and the Sino-Russian energy/security dilemma that is central Asia. May post bits later, probably of the former two.

The Mulder family, whose son Ryan was killed in a gay hate crime this year, asks (via video) the candidates, “As president, what will you do to help create a climate of understanding and respect towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Americans?”

The Mulders’ story here.


I wondered the same thing as Glenn Greenwald when I watched NBC Nightly News last night.

The segment on Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s 60th wedding anniversary was nice nonetheless.

Hands, touchin hands
Reachin out
Touchin me
Touchin you

Sweet caroline
Good times never seemed so good
Ive been inclined
To believe they never would

Neil Diamond, Sweet Caroline

Yes, those lyrics are about the young Caroline Kennedy, apparently. Is it just me, or is that just a bit creepish?

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu harshly criticized homophobia in the Anglican Church. From BBC:

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, he said the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had failed to demonstrate that God is “welcoming”.

He also repeated accusations that the Church was “obsessed” with the issue of gay priests…

Archbishop Tutu referred to the debate about whether Gene Robinson, who is openly gay, could serve as the bishop of New Hampshire.

He said the Anglican Church had seemed “extraordinarily homophobic” in its handling of the issue, and that he had felt “saddened” and “ashamed” of his church at the time.

Asked if he still felt ashamed, he said: “If we are going to not welcome or invite people because of sexual orientation, yes.

“If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God.”

The Reverend Ken Hutcherson, former Dallas Cowboys linebacker and minister at the Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington is threatening Microsoft (again) for its support of anti-discrimination legislation in Washington State. Hutcherson had threatened a boycott on Microsoft in 2005, causing the corporation to briefly suspend its support for the legislation (it later renewed support after protests from gay employees). From the Daily Telegraph:

An advocate of a “biblical stance” against divorce and homosexuality, Mr Hutcherson, 55, is asking millions of evangelical activists, as well as Orthodox Jewish and other allies, to buy up Microsoft shares and demand a return to traditional values.

Microsoft, he declares, will be just the first company targeted in an escalation of the culture wars between evangelicals and corporate America.

“There are 256 Fortune 500 companies alone pouring millions upon millions of dollars into pushing the homosexual agenda,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“I consider myself a warrior for Christ. Microsoft don’t scare me. I got God with me.

“I told them that you need to work with me or we will put a firestorm on you like you have never seen in you life because I am your worst nightmare. I am a black man with a righteous cause with a whole host of powerful white people behind me.”

I really can’t imagine one of the most successful corporations ever being run on “biblical” principals–just doesn’t jive well with the profit factor.


From IHT:

Norway’s state Lutheran church on Friday lifted an outright ban on allowing those living in homosexual partnerships to serve in the clergy, but will leave it up to each bishop to make individual decisions on whether to employ them.

The compromise decision reflected the realization that the church may have to live with a deep split over the issue…

The decision means that six of Norway’s 11 bishops are likely to open the pulpit to gay clergy in partnerships. In a vote earlier in the year, those six bishops voted in favor of easing the ban.

The church already allows gays to serve in the clergy as long as they are not living in a homosexual partnership.

A promising step. Gay equality will never fully be achieved without movements like this from within the religious establishment. Organized religion has always been one of, if not the biggest obstacle to the societal recognition that gay individuals deserve the basic respect and dignity afforded to straight individuals.  Since religion has relatively large influence in governments throughout the world (in varying degrees), I believe the biggest push for gay equality will come from within the church.

In the US, Christianity was a driving factor behind both the abolitionist and Civil Rights movements. Now we’re beginning to reach an important juncture in the current movement for gay equality. Among all of the other societal questions being raised with regard to homosexuality,  Christians will have to reconcile with an inherent tension within the faith: Jesus’ call for love and charity on top of scriptural condemnation of homosexual activity.  I find it promising that more churches such as the Lutheran Church of Norway, and many episcopalian dioceses in the Northeast US, are beginning to reconcile the two in a way that supports the equal recognition and treatment of gay individuals.

More on the Not Gay Chant

Jamelle weights in on the “Not Gay” column. I concur with his conclusion that Cortes is:

1) an idiot.

2) a first-year taking a 100-level philosophy class who got his terms mixed up.

Queerty also weights in, making the point that the need to reaffirm one’s one heterosexuality, is “the gayest thing we’ve ever heard.” In this regard, Cortes does sound strikingly similar to a certain Senator from Idaho…

There were also several good response letters published in the Cavalier Daily.

While I recognize that I am helping to draw attention to this whole matter, I find it annoying that Cortes is getting so much attention for his poorly thought out rant. It’s only helping him cultivate his image as a martyr, which is what he was trying to do with the original column.

Homophobia is Immoral

Yet again, the Cavalier Daily, my university’s daily student paper, ran an ill informed column on homosexuality.  My response is as follows:

I found Mr. Cortes’s attempt to paint himself the victim of intolerance pathetic and laughable. I’m sure the “stares and criticisms” Mr. Cortes had to endure for singing the Not Gay Chant were no doubt unpleasant; as no one likes to be condemned by their peers. However, it should go without saying, that gays have had to put up with far worse—family disownment, bullying, and violence to name a few—as a result of the intolerance supported by individuals like Mr. Cortes and other religious conservatives who share his ideology.

Mr. Cortes’ equating courage with a tasteless taunt indicates severe moral weakness in his argument. Since when is it considered brave (not to mention Christian) to bully an already bullied minority? In what sense is it moral to degrade and trample on the dignity of other individuals? As a society devoted to freedom and equality we must reject Mr. Cortes’ “Christian” notions of bravery and morality. I believe real courage is displayed everyday by openly gay individuals who strive to live their lives with dignity in spite of all of the individuals, groups, traditions, and laws that are aimed at branding them as lesser beings and second class citizens.

Mr. Cortes throws out a straw man in claiming that the Not Gay Chant is not so bad compared to Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Of course that is true; we do live in a democratic society ostensibly devoted to religious freedom, not a third world theocratic state. But this misses the greater point. While Cortes’ method of dealing with gays is by far less severe than the methods of particular Islamic states, the general ideology is the same. Homophobia is homophobia. Any time one’s beliefs, religiously based or otherwise, are based in shaming and degrading homosexuality, one is harming homosexual individuals.

In the United States this means that 33% of gay teens will attempt suicide (Center for Disease Control/Massachusetts Department of Education Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 1999). More gays will be victims of crimes that are based on the perpetrator’s disapproval of homosexuality. The FBI reported that 1,213 gay men and women were victims of hate related crimes in 2005 alone. So no, Mr. Cortez cannot wash his hands of the deadly effects of homophobia in the US by merely contrasting himself to Ahmadinejad. One point of comparison between the two should be emphasized however: both individuals base their anti-gay beliefs in their religion.

Now to address Mr. Cortes’ point on the “suppression” of religious views in the public square. The problem with expressing explicitly religious based arguments in the public square is that not everyone shares the same worldview. In America Mr. Cortes is free to express his Biblically based beliefs against homosexuality all he wants. This does not guarantee him the right to be praised for those beliefs. That’s the beauty of free speech—it helps to create a free market of ideas and allows individuals to critically assess the validity of their beliefs.

In contrast to Mr. Cortes, I believe that homophobia, not homosexuality, is immoral. It degrades individuals and destroys families with gay members. It creates such despair in many gay people that they decide to take their own lives. It creates a situation where violence against gays is condoned and even supported. I urge others to reject Mr. Cortez’s narrow view of morality which supports the degradation of gay individuals and support the dignity of their gay peers by refusing to sing the Not Gay Chant.

Gay Becomes Blasé

Gregory Rodriguez wrote a great piece in the LA Times yesterday highlighting a recent gay demographics study conducted by Gary Gates at the UCLA Law’s Williams Institute. The study found, among many things, that the gay population has been steadily diversifying. The number of out gay couples has also increased tremendously over the past decade–especially in non-urban and middle America. These demographic changes have been linked to growing tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality.

Some highlights:

In 1998 a Gallup poll found that only 33% of Americans thought that homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal. By 2007, that figure had risen to 59%…

Gates’ study shows that the number of openly gay couples in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1990, and the biggest increases are in the country’s more socially conservative areas. Utah is the poster state. Between 1990 and 2006, for example, it went from having the 38th-highest concentration of same-sex couples in the country to 14th highest. In that same time period, the percentage of gay couples who lived in large cities declined from 45% to 23%.

Even more counterintuitive, from 2000 to 2006, states that banned same-sex marriage had above-average increases in the number of gay couples. And places where voter referendums went against same-sex marriages saw even larger increases…

Counterintuitive indeed. I would have thought that there would be a migration of gay couples to the Northeast from the states with anti-gay legislation. I’m sure that’s what many had in mind when writing and supporting such legislation. But it’s backfired. I find it humorous that the states trying to deny the existence of gay couples are now having more and more to deal with. Such a disconnect between the law and reality cannot continue forever (sadly though in the states with anti-gay amendments, it will take at least a generation).

More from the article:

…The larger trend is simply that as more gays come out, they don’t need to change or assimilate to fit into the mainstream because they are already very much a part of it.

“The demographic characteristics of the gay population are converging with those of the mainstream,” Gates says. If you’re from a state like Utah or Nebraska, chances are you’re going to share a lot with your neighbors whether you’re straight or gay: “They’re rural,” Gates says, “they’re religious, and they’re Republican.”

So what does this all mean for American culture at large?

“Society is beginning to say that being gay is not such a big deal,” Gates says. “What that means for gays is that homosexuality won’t have the centrality to their identity it once did. Being gay then becomes one of a variety of an individual’s competing identities.”…

Gates doesn’t believe that these trends spell an end of gay “associational” life. The process he’s describing is not unlike the one experienced by so many immigrant or minority groups in America that fought against discrimination, moved beyond their enclaves and then felt a little sad that they lost the embracing sense of uniqueness and community that they once enjoyed.

As gays meld into the broader population, places like West Hollywood and the Castro district in San Francisco will inevitably lose some of their appeal. As more gays come out in more places, the diversity of homosexual politics and lifestyles will come out with them, and the tolerant will multiply.

For some of the pioneers from the edgy, embattled, ecstatic “good old days,” this may be bittersweet. “But isn’t that what everyone wanted 20 years ago?” Gates asks. “Just to be treated like everyone else?”

I’ve expressed similar sentiments before. It still surprises me to see other gays expressing hostility towards messages of assimilation. Some have called me a bigot at DailyKos for expressing such messages, which is utterly baffling to me. But again, it seems the statistics compiled by Gates shows that the assimilationist view is winning out.

The New Jersey commission charged with investigating the civil unions in the state has found that the “civil union law has been a failure…It is not working as effectively as if the word ‘marriage’ were used.”

Gov. Corzine has expressed support for full marriage equality for gays in New Jersey, though he wants to hold off on the discussion until after the 2008 presidential election, where such initiative could be “hijacked by the right wing.”