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Archive for August, 2007

Perhaps I spoke to soon in my hopes that the Iowa decision would not be a major 2008 election issue. Mitt Romney has already issued a statement on the decision saying:

The ruling in Iowa today is another example of an activist court and unelected judges trying to redefine marriage and disregard the will of the people as expressed through Iowa’s Defense of Marriage Act. This once again highlights the need for a Federal Marriage Amendment to protect the traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.

I honestly wish politicians on both the left and the right would just leave gays alone for at least one election cycle. I’m sick of my life being made into a political issue.

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Judge Robert Hanson of Polk County, Iowa struck down the state’s decade-old anti-gay marriage statute this morning, finding that it violated the state constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses.

Gay couples across the state of Iowa are now free to apply for marriage licenses.

While I was excited to learn of this ruling for gay equality, I fear it will be short lived. The Polk County attorney plans on appealing the ruling to the State Supreme Court, and he has already filed a stay to prevent gay couples from marrying until the appeal is resolved.

What’s worse, Republican House Minority Leader Christopher Rants is already preparing an anti-gay marriage amendment to Iowa’s constitution.

We saw how the 2003 Massachusetts ruling in favor of marriage equality ushered in backlash across the country, culminating in 27 state amendments denying the right of marriage to gays. I fear this Iowa ruling will have a similar effect, especially with election season upon us. This is why I’m generally against sweeping court decisions like this. I think an incremental steps toward equality such as the ones in Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Washington, Virginia, and Michigan.

I may be overly pessimistic–a lot has changed even in the five years since the Massachusetts ruling. In spite of all of the state wide amendments banning gay marriage, we have seen several states move in the opposite direction to provide the status of civil unions to gay couples (though still unequal).

In addition, Rove (mastermind of the gay-baiting tactics to get out the conservative base) is gone. The ‘family values’ wing of the Republican party is awash with the sex scandals of Senators Craig and Vitter. And recent polling has indicated that social wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion may not have the pull they had in past, what with two failing wars in the Middle East and all.

Either way, should be a very interesting case to follow, and certainly more to come on the Blitz.

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Convicted drug dealers Daniel Mangini and Steven Roberts, who have been together for over 20 years, were dealt a victory in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia last month.

After serving their time and sobering up in prison, the men were eager to reunite during their 5 year probation period. However, federal probation policy prohibits ex-cons from associating in any way with other ex-cons unless their are spouses or blood relatives.

According the ACLU, who represented Mangini and Roberts, Judge Marvin Katz relied on the 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas to rule that “same-sex couples have the same right to form intimate relationships as opposite sex couples and that it is unconstitutional to treat same-sex couples differently.”

Mangini noted, “It’s fair to say we’re not role models, but that doesn’t mean we should have less rights than anybody else.” Mangini is certainly right that he is no role model for the equal marriage movement, nonetheless this case may have far reaching effects for future cases.

This case is a part of a growing trend to expand the benefits of marriage to same sex couples, even in light of state statutes and amendments banning the recognition of same sex marriage. This is similar to Michigan State University, who changed their employment benefit policies to get around the state’s anti-gay marriage amendment, as well as the University of Virginia, who similarly changed their gym membership policies.

While the particularities of theses cases are different, the core similarity is that they weaken ‘traditional’ marriage by offering the benefits of marriage to gay couples who cannot, by law, marry. Opponents to gay equality say they only want to protect traditional marriage, but these cases show that by excluding gays, they are only undermining that cause.

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A Daily Dish reader writes the following with regard to Senator Craig and closeted gay conservatives who cruise for sex in public restrooms and the like:

Every time there is another “outing” of an openly anti-gay politician, I am surprised that the media are so perplexed. Is there, in fact, irony that a guy who argues professionally against gay families, is engaging in extra-familial sex with other men? A gay guy who aligns with the straight folks politically!

I would say, “not at all ironic.” It’s merely part of the Death of Gay Culture. The current political wars are a re-alignment. It used to be gay vs straight. But now it’s the old gay culture against the new gay culture. Larry Craig cruises for sex in bathrooms, he’s part of the old gay culture. His lifestyle is threated by gay marriage: more guys sitting at the boarding gate with their husbands means fewer in the airport washroom. His lifestyle is threated by gays in the military: more sailors with boyfriends on shore means fewer available underneath the dock. Craig, West, and Haggard are the death throes of the old gay culture, desperately longing for the good old days.

Jamie Kirchick concurs:

In other words, say goodbye to anonymous cruising and say hello to more weddings. I think there’s a limit to this analysis—as men will always be men–but the the normalization and stabilization of gay life (epitomized by gay marriage) over the past 30 years has only helped gay male culture mature.

Indeed, this scandal could not have arrived at a more opportune moment. The same day that Andrew [Sullivan]–who has spent much of his intellectual life advocating for gay marriage, when many in the gay rights movement were trumpeting separatism, the necessity of being “queer,” and other such indulgences–gets married, a United States Senator–who has been a loyal foot soldier in the movement to deny gays (perhaps, like himself) civil rights–is revealed to have allegedly sought out sex with an anonymous man in an airport restroom. Perhaps there is no greater comparison between the stability of being comfortable with who you are and the self-denial and self-hatred of the closet. It’s not just the “old” gay culture of anonymous sexual encounters vs. the “new” gay culture of monogamy; it’s self-loathing vs. self-affirmation.

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Today’s passage for the bibliomancers out there comes from Job 7:1-2:

Human life is like forced army service,

like a life of hard manual labor,

like a slave longing for cool shade;

like a worker waiting for his pay.

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From the Armenian news agency, Panorama:

The Azerbaijani parliament will adopt the military doctrine of the country in upcoming fall where Armenia will be mentioned as “Azerbaijan’s chief enemy,” Deputy of Azerbaijani Mili Mejlis Zahid Oruj informed in an interview to Day.az. Qualified as “a constitution in military,” the document shall include issues like safety threats, certain factors of various pressures, spots of conflicts, armament of neighbors and so on.

Taking USA as an example, the Azerbaijani parliamentarians are also going to list the countries threatening their country. “For example, U.S. strategic security paper mentions names of countries which fund terrorism and directly support international crime. In my opinion, Azerbaijan must apply that practice,” Zahid Oruj said. “Armenia will be mentioned as enemy state in the document,” he announced.

See my earlier post on the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict for more info.

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The Washington Post reports on a new UN report which found that Afghanistan is now the source of 93% of the world’s heroine and morphine supply.  The report notes, “leaving aside 19th-century China . . ., no country in the world has ever produced narcotics on such a deadly scale.”

So much for our successful war.

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